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October 25, 2014

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Disciplinary hearing for District Judge Steven Jones will go forward

Judge Steve Jones

Judge Steve Jones

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that a disciplinary hearing can go forward against suspended Clark County District Judge Steven Jones, accused of presiding over cases involving his girlfriend.

The court, in a 2-1 decision, denied the petition of Jones, who claimed the state Judicial Discipline Commission did not follow the rules in its investigation and procedures in bringing misconduct charges against him.

The decision issued Thursday said the continued delay of the disciplinary hearing “would undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judicial discipline process and work to the prejudice of both petitioner (Jones) and the NCJD (discipline commission)."

Justices James Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre said Jones has an avenue to appeal if the discipline commission sanctions him.

Justice Michael Cherry dissented, saying the full seven members of the court should consider the issues presented by attorney James Jimmerson on behalf of Jones.

“This court has an obligation to ensure that parties are not subject to injustice in the course of any proceeding, much less matters involving judicial discipline, and it cannot be denied that Judge Jones has presented substantial issues warranting this court’s full consideration,” Cherry said.

Jimmerson argued that the discipline commission had failed to turn over necessary evidence needed to prepare a defense and had also failed to rule on the motion to dismiss the allegations.

The discipline commission had set July 29 to begin the hearing, but the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay while it considered Jones' petition.

Jones has denied the complaint that he had a “close social and personal relationship” with then-Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willardson, and he refused to disqualify himself in cases in which she represented the county.

The court also rejected the motion of Brian Hutchins, acting executive director of the discipline commission, to issue sanctions against Jimmerson for filing a petition that had no merit.

Hutchins said in briefs to the court that it would take four months to schedule a new hearing for Jones.

Jones has also pleaded not guilty to being involved in a scheme to defraud investors out of $3 million. After the federal indictment was issued, the discipline commission suspended Jones with pay from his judgeship.

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