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Family Court judge to face disciplinary hearing in December


The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline has set a Dec. 2 public hearing in Las Vegas into allegations Family Court Judge Steven Jones mishandled a romantic relationship with a prosecutor who appeared before him.

The hearing had been scheduled for July 29, but Jones and his lawyers mounted an 11th-hour campaign at the Nevada Supreme Court and District Court to block it.

Both courts denied the judge’s bid, but the hearing had to be put off amid the legal wrangling.

Jones contended the judicial commission failed to follow its own rules when investigating him and violated his due process rights.

Commission lawyers maintained the judge’s rights were protected and his last-minute effort to derail the disciplinary proceedings was a ploy to avoid sanctions.

According to a 12-count complaint filed by commission lawyers in December, former Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willardson “actively litigated cases” in the judge’s courtroom while she maintained a relationship with him in 2011. Jones didn’t disqualify himself from her cases.

The Nevada State Bar, which regulates lawyers, declined to discipline Willardson, who was fired from the district attorney’s office after the relationship was revealed.

The professional organization sent her a “letter of caution” that suggested her conduct “undermined” public trust in the justice system.

Jones has denied the misconduct allegations, first brought to light in a 2011 Las Vegas Review-Journal story.

The judicial commission suspended Jones in November after a federal grand jury charged him with participating in a $3 million investment fraud scheme.

Jones, who is to stand trial in the criminal case March 3, has continued to receive his $200,000 annual salary.

 

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