Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2014

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Judge loses Nevada high court discipline ruling

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an embattled family court judge's claims that an investigation that led to his public censure and suspension without pay was biased and that the complaint against him was flawed.

The justices said it would be premature to rule on Clark County Family Court Judge Steven Jones' challenge of the underpinnings of the investigation against him. The order unanimously called "extraordinary intervention" unnecessary.

Jones' lawyers didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The state high court will be expected to take up the question of Jones' prosecution again — on Jones' appeal of a Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline order that suspended him for three months for presiding over cases handled by a prosecutor he was dating.

Jones' ethics prosecution over his relationship with former Deputy Clark County District Attorney Lisa Willardson is one of several ongoing issues involving the veteran judge first elected to the family court bench in 1992.

Last month, Jones quit his bid for re-election.

The day he was found to have improperly failed to recuse himself from handling cases that Willardson prosecuted, Jones found Willardson dead at her home in Henderson.

The Clark County coroner ruled Willardson's death at age 45 was an accident — the result of a lethal combination of prescription medications including a sedative, an anti-anxiety medication, an antidepressant and a sleep aid.

Jones remains suspended from the bench with pay following his indictment in October 2012 with several other people on federal criminal fraud charges. He is accused of using the power of his office to boost a $3 million investment scheme. Trial in that case is scheduled for June.

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