JURY TRIAL: Prosecutor says jury would hear appeal from Fireball Holland.

  • JURY TRIAL: Prosecutor says jury would hear appeal from Fireball Holland.

Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley of Little Rock, whose office covers Perry County, says his office will ask for a jury trial if Sen. Bruce “Fireball” Holland follows through with his vow to appeal convictions Thursday in Perry District Court for fleeing a deputy who was chasing him for speeding.

Holland was convicted of fleeing, unsafe passing and speeding. Holland has admitted speeding, but denies unsafe passing (despite eyewitness testimony of other drivers) and insists he was unaware of pursuit by Deputy Ray Byrd. Byrd said he chased Holland through two counties over more than 18 miles of state highway at speeds of more than 100 miles an hour before he was finally stopped in Yell County. Byrd was in an unmarked pickup with flashing blue lights but was not using a siren.

Jegley said Holland’s 400 hours of community service and an $890 fine were substantial penalties, but he said if the prosecution had been asked for a recommmendation, it would have recommended the standard sentence for such violations. He said a typical sentence for fleeing an officer would be 10 days in the county jail.

Jegley said the prosecutor’s office is not likely to plea bargain. “It’s our general policy not to compromise down from district court sentences because it would guarantee thousands of circuit court appeals every year,” he said.

Would a Perry County jury be friendly to Holland and tend to disbelieve the account of the local lawman? There’s this: Byrd will appear before a jury pool unlikely to hold many grudges for his traffic enforcement. He’s reportedly written only one other traffic ticket in four years as chief deputy.

Holland has contended he’s a stickler for punctuality and was in a hurry in his Nissan 350Z to get to a meeting in Van Buren. What about it drivers? Don’t you think a faster route from Little Rock would have been via Interstate 40, rather than the narrow, sometimes twisty and community-dotted route on state Highway 10 south of the Arkansas River? The back roads are appealing, however, to sports car drivers and motorcyclists who like to test their skills, Thunder Road-style.

Democratic Party says Holland should man up and do his time. It adds his name to a list with Bourbon and Bacon Biviano and FOI-flouting Secretary of State Mark Martin (and they could have mentioned that state rep. who slipped into office despite a hot check conviction) who are resisting accountability for misdeeds.