Beer-Bribing Judge Gets Probation
Remember Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II of Wayne County, North Carolina? Maybe not. As a reminder, he was the esteemed jurist who tried to obtain his wife's text messages by offering an FBI agent "a couple cases of beer" and $100. Now-former Judge Jones was arrested, indicted on three federal charges, convicted, had the convictions overturned, subsequently pleaded guilty to paying gratuities to a public official, and has now been sentenced to two years probation, $5,000 in fines, and 100 hours of community service.
There are many reasons why a judge, even the one sitting as chairman of the state's Innocence Inquiry Commission, would seek to avoid incarceration. And there are many judges out there who might deserve to be behind bars. Here's a look at both.
Robes & Roadies
Part of Jones's defense hinged on his participation on the Innocence Inquiry Commission. As the ABA Journal noted, Jones's defense attorneys (good job not representing yourself!) claimed the FBI agent at the center of the bribe strung Jones along precisely to punish him for his role in helping to free those who had been wrongfully convicted. Whatever the reason, Jones popped up on law enforcement's radar, and allegedly a "SWAT-team-like raid" occurred in 20015 at the judge's home in Wayne County. It probably didn't aid his case that, according to the News & Observer, Jones made the bribery handoff "on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse while wearing his judicial robe."
All of this got us thinking about our favorite stories of judges behaving badly -- here are our top five:
It's never a good look for someone who sentences DUI offenders to be tipsy on their way to work; especially when she's pulled over at 8 a.m. on her way to the courthouse.
Should you threaten defense attorneys with physical violence? Should you follow through with that threat? Should you punish all other defendants by forcing them to proceed without counsel? No, no, and, most certainly, no.
Look, we all know that court can be boring. And judges, above all others, should know and be prepared for that. Catching a cat nap during cross examination certainly doesn't send the message to pay attention or even stay awake.
There is no doubt that you will find some mouthy defendants in criminal court -- innocent and guilty alike think that they'll avoid harsh punishment by explaining their side of the circumstances. But not everyone wants to hear your plaintive defenses. Especially not Judge Stephen Belden.
Actually, the judge in this case didn't behave that badly, unless you consider bad behavior to be ordering the star of Private Stuffers 1, Sexcretaries, and Mature Thunder Buns 1 to undergo mental health evaluations.
- Former NC Judge Accused of Trying to Bribe FBI Agent With Bud Light Won't Do Prison Time (The News & Observer)
- Judge Sends Two Miss San Antonios to Pageant After Legal Dispute (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Judge Calls Gambler's Bluff on Restitution by Poker (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Judge Orders Deadbeat Dad to Stop Procreating (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)