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Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards 2013

Ms. Diana Holt, J.D.
BA English '92
Columbia, SC

Diana Holt

Attorney Diana Holt first came into the public eye in 1993 when she got involved with the death-row case of Edward Lee Elmore, an intellectually disabled black man with no previous felony record. She spent more than a decade fighting on his behalf until he was released March 2, 2012, setting a new precedent for fairness in the judicial system. This story is now a book, Anatomy of Injustice, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner.
Diana Holt worked as an attorney at the Center for Capital Litigation in South Carolina, a nonprofit representing prisoners on death row. Having overcome great hardships in her own life, her reputation as someone who will work to save the lives of those wrongly condemned is legend.
Holt was born in El Paso, Texas and had a difficult and abusive childhood. She, after many twists, was married to a man who would not be charged with trying to kill her because, according to local police, there was not enough evidence. This was a turning point for her and she decided to become a lawyer. She started community college in 1986, transferring to Texas State University where she twice received the Mary Louise Hightower Scholarship and completed her education with a 4.0 GPA, graduating Summa Cum Laude, December 1992. She was admitted to UT Law School in 1991.
Holt and the Elmore case were recently featured in The Atlantic magazine. Newsweek Magazine named her as “150 Fearless Women of the Year 2012.”