Theodore T. Jones, the Defendant's Champion: Reviewing a Sample of Judge Jones's Criminal Jurisprudence

By Winkler, Erika L. | Albany Law Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Theodore T. Jones, the Defendant's Champion: Reviewing a Sample of Judge Jones's Criminal Jurisprudence


Winkler, Erika L., Albany Law Review


I. INTRODUCTION

Theodore T. Jones is the most recently appointed Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. He was nominated for the post by Governor Elliot Spitzer and was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate in February 2007. (1) Jones replaced Judge Albert M. Rosenblatt on the Court upon Rosenblatt's retirement. (2)

Jones was born in Brooklyn, New York to a school teacher and a railroad station master. (3) Armed with political science and history degrees from Hampton University, Judge Jones served in the United States Army in active duty in Vietnam before attending St. John's University School of Law, where he received his degree in 1972. (4) This accomplishment marked the beginning of a storied legal career. (5)

Before joining New York's highest court, Jones served as a law secretary in the New York State Court of Claims. (6) More significantly, however, Jones served as justice of the state's supreme court for seventeen years--from 1990 until his Court of Appeals nomination. (7) Jones served as a state supreme court justice in the juvenile offender part and the court's civil term, before ultimately becoming the civil term's administrative judge. (8) Prior to entering public judicial service, Jones worked both in private practice and at the Legal Aid Society, where he focused on criminal defense work. (9)

In his tenure of over three years on the Court, Judge Jones has authored numerous majority and dissenting opinions. As of this writing, (10) Jones has authored approximately forty majority opinions. Approximately ten of those majority opinions have been in criminal cases (11) and thirty have been in civil cases. Additionally, Judge Jones has authored thirteen dissenting opinions--nine in criminal cases (12) and four in civil cases.

While some of the majority and dissenting opinions penned by Jones in both criminal and civil cases have been unopposed by another member of the Court, many have not. This article will specifically analyze and discuss those cases. (13) Part II.A of this article outlines Judge Jones's majority opinions in criminal cases where dissenting opinions were written by another member of the Court. Similarly, Part II.B discusses recent Court of Appeals criminal cases where Judge Jones dissented. Part III analyzes the points of difference between those majority and dissenting views and, in so doing, attempts to identify trends and conclusions regarding Judge Jones's criminal jurisprudence. Part IV provides a few closing thoughts.

II. JUDGE JONES'S MAJORITY AND DISSENTING CRIMINAL OPINIONS

A. Majority Opinions in Which Another Member of the Court Dissented

Thus far, during his time on the Court of Appeals, Judge Jones has written several majority opinions in criminal cases, and only three of them were not supported by a unanimous Court. (14) In People v. Bailey, Judge Pigott dissented from Jones's majority opinion on evidentiary issues, and in People v. Bauman, Judge Smith dissented from Jones's majority opinion on an issue relating to the sufficiency of pleadings.

In People v. Bailey, the defendant was arrested by plain-clothed police officers who were looking out for pickpockets. (15) At the time of his arrest, the defendant was carrying counterfeit bills and allegedly told the officer that "[y]ou got me for the counterfeit money, but I didn't have my hand near [the woman's purse that the officers believed the defendant pick pocketed]." (16) Before trial, the defendant moved to suppress his statement, but that motion was denied. (17) Subsequently, the defendant was convicted of fourth degree attempted grand larceny and first degree possession of a forged instrument. (18) Upon his conviction, the defendant moved to set aside the forgery verdict, "arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he had ... [the requisite] knowledge that [the instrument was] forged and with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another.

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