A former prosecutor who had a romantic relationship with embattled Family Court Judge Steven Jones is suing the Clark County district attorney’s office in an effort to clear her name.
In a federal lawsuit filed Friday by lawyer Gary Modafferi, Lisa Willardson denied she and Jones had a relationship while she appeared before the judge, though emails between the couple suggested they were dating at the time.
The 11-page lawsuit says the district attorney’s office spread “false statements” to Las Vegas news media about the relationship between Willardson and Jones, which slandered and defamed her and violated her civil rights.
According to the lawsuit, Willardson also was denied the opportunity for a “name clearing hearing” by the district attorney’s office.
Willardson is asking for an unspecified amount of damages, including back pay with interest.
The district attorney’s office hadn’t been served with the lawsuit as of late Friday, and the county’s top prosecutor, Steve Wolfson, was not available for comment.
The timing of the couple’s relationship is at the heart of the case.
Jones and Willardson have said they weren’t dating until November 2011.
However, an under-the-table photo of Jones’ hand near Willardson’s knee at an Oct. 28, 2011, party, snapped by two prosecutors, suggested otherwise.
And Willardson wrote in two emails in late October 2011 that she and Jones were dating.
She was fired in December 2011.
Earlier this year, the State Bar of Nevada declined to discipline Willardson.
The lawyer has maintained she has never breached her “ethical or professional responsibility.”
In December 2012, the Commission on Judicial Discipline accused Jones of violating the Nevada Judicial Code of Conduct in his handling of the relationship with the former prosecutor.
The commission alleged that Willardson actively litigated cases in the judge’s courtroom while the relationship was taking place and that Jones failed to disqualify himself from cases involving her. A public hearing on the misconduct allegations has been set for July 29.
Meanwhile, Jones is facing a federal indictment in what authorities allege was an unrelated $3 million investment fraud scheme.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.