Bruce Martin Bolin (born September 28, 1950) is a retired judge of the 26th Judicial District of Louisiana and a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Bolin held court from 1991 to 2012 in the Division E judgeship based in Benton and Minden, the seats of government of Bossier and Webster parishes, respectively.
Bolin was born to Judge James E. Bolin, Sr., and the former Mary Eloise Martin (1913–2007). He was born in Springhill, where his parents were then residing. He graduated in 1968 from Minden High School. He was a basketball manager and golfer in high school. Bolin procured his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and his legal credentials from Louisiana State University Law Center, both in Baton Rouge. His brother, James E. Bolin, Jr. (born 1941), is a practicing attorney in Shreveport. He also has two sisters, Beth Bolin Falk and Becky Bolin Maupin.
Early in his career, Bolin practiced law and served on the indigent defender board in Minden.
On November 7, 1978, Bolin ran in the special election for the District 10 seat in the Louisiana House vacated by R. Harmon Drew, Sr. A former Minden city judge, Drew was again elected to that post in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on September 16 and had therefore resigned his House seat. Bolin led the balloting over three opponents, including Achillea Gust "Ike" Kirkikis (1926–2004), a Greek-American businessman from Minden who also served for four terms on the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing council, was a past president of the Minden Beautification Council, and owned until 1981 Economy Butane and Propane Company. Also in the race were outgoing Minden Mayor J.E. "Pat" Patterson and forester William H. "Bill" Zachry, Jr. (born June 10, 1943), the most politically conservative of the four candidates.
Zachry's wife, the former Linda Kay Talton (1943-1991), was a daughter of Minden businessman George Cole Talton (1917-1965), the owner of the former City Limit Grocery on Pine Street. Bolin led the field, with 5,580 votes (47.2 percent) to Kirkikis's 2,789 (23.6 percent), Patterson's 2,687 (22.7 percent), and Zachry's 773 (6.5 percent). Patterson's son, Ricky Patterson (1951–1978), was shot to death on November 6, election-eve.
In the runoff held on December 16, Bolin prevailed, 2,698 (59.5 percent) to Kirkikis' 1,833 (40.5 percent). He hence took office on January 1, 1979, for the fifteen months remaining in Drew's unexpired term.
Bolin's father had held the same House seat from 1940 to 1944. Bolin served as representative for nearly a dozen years; he was unopposed for his last term in 1987. He resigned late in 1990, when he was elected to the state district judgeship. The senior Bolin had held that post too — from 1952 to 1960.
Bolin was elected to full terms in 1979, 1983, and in 1987. In the 1983 campaign, U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., U.S. Representatives Jerry Huckaby and Buddy Roemer, then Louisiana House Speaker John Hainkel, and then state Representative Robert Adley headlined a testimonial dinner and fundraiser for Bolin held at the Minden Civic Center and attended by some one thousand supporters though he had no opponent. He ran unopposed as well in 1987, when he won his third full term which he did not complete.
In the House, Bolin voted 55 percent from 1979 to 1984 with the trade association known as the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In 1984 alone, LABI ranked him 32 percent favorable. He voted against efforts by organized labor to repeal the state right to work law.
In the spring of 1984, Bolin was one of twenty-eight representatives who voted against a 1 percentage point increase in the state sales tax, which was nevertheless pushed to passage by then Governor Edwin Edwards. Bolin said that while he admired Edwards' gubernatorial leadership and ability to get legislation enacted, "I just thought it was an improper time to drop this additional load on the taxpayers."
In 1984, Bolin was appointed by House Speaker John Alario to chair the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. Prior to that time, he had chaired the House Judiciary Committee.
In 1988, Representative Bolin applauded Governor Buddy Roemer's early reform efforts: "the state can't be everything to everybody, and the new budget reflects that." Bolin also correctly predicted that Roemer would in time run for president, but that did not happen for another twenty-four years. Bolin said that Roemer "needs no political baggage" and that Louisiana "must be viewed as a progressive state" for Romer to accomplish the goal of becoming president.
In September 1984, Bolin ran for the office of Bossier-Webster Parish District Attorney, but he lost by 122 votes to the incumbent and fellow Democrat Henry Newton Brown, Jr., of Bossier City. The tally was 16,447 for Brown to 16,326 for Bolin. Bolin carried forty-one of the forty-eight precincts in Webster Parish but only two in Bossier Parish. In that campaign, Bolin accused Brown of having dropped 230 charges against suspects, including some who were accused of murder, rape, narcotics violations, and driving while intoxicated. Later during the decade CBS's 60 Minutes ran a story on Brown stressing the district attorney's aggressive prosecution of murder suspects.
Bolin was elected judge of the 26th Judicial District court in 1990, when his runoff opponent, Randy Rowe of Bossier City, withdrew from the contest. However, there was a delay in certification of Bolin as the winner of the election because of a challenge waged by advocates of single-member districts for judges, a practice which the United States Supreme Court has ruled is not required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
After Bolin became a judge, his state House seat temporarily reverted to a Republican, Eugene Eason of Springhill in northern Webster Parish, who filled the remaining months of Bolin's term. Eason was actually the first Republican ever to seek the Webster Parish seat in the state House. Eason was promptly retired in the general election held on November 16, 1991 by another Democrat, educator Everett Doerge of Minden.
As a long-serving district judge, Bolin on occasion acted as a judge pro tempore by special appointment of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In the 2012 election to choose a successor to Judge Bolin, three Republicans, Whitley Robert "Whit" Graves, Mike Nerren, and John B. Slattery, Jr., the city judge in Springhill, filed for the post, but no Democrat entered the competition. In previous years, no Republicans would likely have filed for the judgeship. Party fortunes began to reverse themselves in Louisiana early in the 21st century. Nerren and Graves led the primary field. Graves then lost to Nerren in the second round of balloting on December 8, 6,412 (46.5 percent) to 7,390 (53.5 percent).
Though he left the judgeship, Bolin is listed on the 26th Judicial District website as the "hearing officer".