Suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones formally withdraws from re-election race

Sticking to his word, suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones filed paperwork late Tuesday withdrawing from his re-election race.

Jones told the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline on Monday that he planned to bow out, as commissioners considered how to punish him for misconduct stemming from his romantic relationship with a late prosecutor, Lisa Willardson.

The Clark County Election Department’s website lists Jones as having withdrawn, leaving the race up for grabs among five lawyers, Rebecca Burton, John “Jack” Howard Jr., Lynn Hughes, Marsha Kimble-Simms and Michele Mercer.

Jones faces a wide range of possible sanctions from the commission over his affair with Willardson, including removal from office.

The seven-member commission deliberated on the judge’s fate late Monday afternoon, and members indicated they would make public a written decision in a few days.

Last month, the commission found that special prosecutors proved “by clear and convincing evidence” eight of 12 charges filed against Jones in December 2012 related to his relationship with Willardson.

The panel concluded that Jones dated Willardson while she appeared before him in child welfare cases and then interfered with efforts by former Clark County District Attorney David Roger to remove her from the unit.

Roger ultimately fired Willardson.

Jones was found to have violated rules of the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct that require judges to comply with the law, avoid the appearance of impropriety and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

The judge discovered Willardson’s body in the bathroom of her Henderson home on Dec. 26, the same day the commission’s decision on the charges was first made public.

There were no signs of foul play, and the coroner is waiting for toxicology results before ruling on the cause of her death.

The commission suspended Jones with pay in November 2012 after he was indicted with five others by a federal grand jury in what prosecutors called a decade-long investment fraud scheme. He is awaiting trial.

Jones will continue to receive his $200,000 salary until his term is up at the end of the year, unless the judicial commission orders him removed from the bench.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.