It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of our dear friend, Scharlette Holdman. Scharlette was an unstoppable force of nature, who did more to stop the death penalty than virtually any other individual in this country. We first met Scharlette 40 years ago, when she was working out of a tiny donated office in Tallahassee.
In those days, post-conviction work was strictly on a volunteer basis and no one got paid, not the lawyers, and certainly not the investigators. The lack of funds never stopped Scharlette; she was constantly coming up with creative ways to “enlist” volunteer lawyers. During those very difficult days, she worked tirelessly to ensure every individual on Florida’s death row was represented by pro bono counsel.
It was never about money or fame for Scharlette. Rather, her life’s work came from a deep and abiding commitment to justice and mercy. In recent years, she worked with one of the best death penalty lawyers in the country, Judy Clarke and together, they made a formidable team. Scharlette will be missed by all those who knew and loved her. Although there will never be another Scharlette Holdman, her life’s work has changed the course of death penalty litigation in this country. She leaves behind many people whose lives have been forever changed by knowing her.