Richard "Deacon" Jones was removed from his office as a judge of the Douglas County court-house, Nebraska Supreme Court in 1998.

And not at all because he was fat: Jones was a self- admitted morbidly-obese person, weighing-in at more than 400 pounds.

It what has to go down as an understatement , the official record shows that Jones was fired for conduct that is unbecoming a judge.

The conduct for which Jones was removed is extraordinary if now comical, except for the litigants and attorneys that had to stomach it.

On October 21, 1997, a formal complaint was filed against Jones with the Nebraska Commission on Judicial Qualifications, including seven (later eight) counts of misconduct in alleged violation of the Nebraska Code of Judicial Conduct. The complaint was supported by Ernie Chambers, then Nebraska's only black state senator and no stranger to oddities in law (see Chambers v God).

The conduct of Richard M. "Deacon" Jones is set out in the court record.

Richard Jones, discraced ex-judgeGod help us all if even a fraction of the stated misconduct leaves any doubt whatsoever as to the wisdom of this individual on the bench of any court of law in any jurisdiction or, for that matter, even as a member of the bar:

"On or about August 11, 1994, Jones was riding in an elevator with Judge Jane Prochaska from the employee parking lot of the Douglas County Courthouse and pressed and rubbed up against Prochaska's body, including her breasts. As Jones left the elevator, he said ‘fuck you’ to Prochaska.

"On or about July 22, 1993, Jones directed a court employee to deliver a message to Prochaska to get her “fat, fucking ass” to the clerk's office to sign some papers.

"On or about November 30, 1993, Jones, in the presence of another court employee, made a false statement to Prochaska that she had offered Jones oral sex in exchange for his vote for presiding judge;  on several occasions thereafter, Jones made false statements to this same court employee to the effect that Prochaska had offered him oral sex.

"On or about June 25, 1997, Jones, in the presence of and within the hearing of court employees, used profanity, including the phrases “what the fuck am I supposed to do,” “find yourself another fucking judge,” and “fucking bitch.”

"On numerous occasions from 1993 to the present time, Jones has referred to Prochaska, in the presence of other court employees, as a “bitch,” “cunt,” or “fucking cunt.”

"On numerous occasions from 1993 to the present time, Jones has made statements to another judge, to another court employee, and to an Omaha police officer suggesting Jones would like to see Prochaska killed or tortured, including: references to stuffing dynamite in her tailpipe, and being there to “watch the mist blow 20 feet in the air, turning Prochaska's head into pink mist”; and pouring honey on her and letting ants crawl over her."

"On various occasions from 1995 to 1997, Jones signed official court documents with names other than his own,  including “Adolf Hitler,” “Judge Smallheiser,” and “Judge Ryan.... Jones admits to signing plea forms with the names “William Ryan,” “Judge Creeder ... Snow White,” and “Mickey Mouse.”

"On various occasions during 1996, Jones entered or set bond amounts for criminal defendants which were nonsensical, or problematic for the court employees who must administer those bonds, including a bond for a “zillion” dollars and one for 13¢.... and $999.99;

"Judge Mark Ashford testified that 6 or 7 years prior, a death threat had been left in his mail slot at work. Believing the author to be a person he prosecuted years ago and had recently seen in court, Ashford took the note seriously and gave it to the police.   As a result, there was a police investigation and, for a short time, police surveillance of Ashford's home. Several days later, Jones admitted to Ashford that he had written the note and apologized. Ashford accepted Jones' apology and forgave him.

"Ashford also testified that on one occasion, fireworks were set off in the bathroom area of his office... Jones subsequently admitted that he had set off the firecrackers and apologized.

"In late 1992 or early 1993, Jones set off firecrackers in Ashford's office in the Douglas County Courthouse, during working hours.

"Jones, at times, ate meals at the homes of individuals whom he had placed on probation and that Jones met and discussed with a criminal defendant the defendant's alcohol problems and treatment options before the defendant entered a plea.

"Jones stated or suggested to other court employees that if he got into any trouble, he would “take” other judges with him, or ruin careers, or in some fashion retaliate against other judges."

One can only wonder why justices Jane Prochaska and Mark Ashford left their Nebraska lawyers and citizenry blowing in the wind, exposed to Jones. As the evidence revealed, they did not report "Deacon" though they personally experienced serious misconduct long before the complaints of 1997 and 1998.

One can understand the hesitancy of Court employees ... but Justices Prochaska and Ashford?

But, finally, Jones was hauled before the Commission in January 1998, retired district court judge William Blue presiding. The commission recommended that Jones be removed from office. Jones hired lawyer David Herzog of Omaha to represent him on the appeal but to no avail.

Five Justices of the Supreme Court of Nebraska heard the appeal but any law student could have writen these words, the decision of the court:

"Jones' continuing pattern of misconduct demonstrates a lack of proper judicial temperament and a fundamental abuse of power that seriously undermines public confidence in the judiciary. These flaws are inconsistent with service as a judge.   Removal from office is necessary to preserve the integrity of the judicial system."

On July 17, 1998, Richard "Deacon" Jones was removed from his judicial office.

But Jones, it seemed, wasn't done yet. He filed his own complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of Nebraska alleging not that Tourette's Syndrome was not accommodated, but that he was discriminated against  as a "fat, diabetic, white ... Christian."

Again, he hired a lawyer (Carl Hartmann).

No word on the result of that exercise in futility or as to the whereabouts of Richard M. "Deacon" Jones.

No interest either.

As long as he's doing something other than law.

REFERENCES:

  • In re Complaint Against Richard M. Jones, S-35-970001, Supreme Court of Nebraska, July 17, 1998
  • O'Hanlon, Kevin, Ousted Judge Claims Discrimination, Associated Press, July 29, 1998
  • Ousted Judge Files Complaint, Lawrence Journal-World, July 30, 1998