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John E. Jones

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This page is about the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania judge. For other judges with this name, please see John Jones.
John E. Jones
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #1
Station:   Willamsport, PA
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Approval vote:   96-0
Active:   07/31/2002 - Present
Preceded by:   James McClure
Personal History
Born:   1955
Hometown:   Pottsville, PA
Undergraduate:   Dickinson College, B.A., 1977
Law School:   Dickinson Law, J.D., 1980

John E. Jones, III is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He joined the court in 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

Early life and education

A native Pennsylvanian, Jones graduated from Dickinson College with his bachelor's degree in 1977 and his Juris Doctor degree in 1980.[1]

Professional career

Jones spent his entire pre-judicial legal career as a private practice attorney licensed in the State of Pennsylvania from 1980 to 2002:

  • Part-time Law Clerk for Judge Guy Bowe of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, 1980-1984
  • Executive officer, Phoenix Contracting Co. & Affiliated Corporations, 1980-2002
  • Part-time Assistant Public Defender, Pennsylvania Public Defender's Office, 1984-1995
  • Director, Union Bank and Trust Company, 1993-2002
  • Chairman, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 1995-2002[1]

Judicial career

Middle District of Pennsylvania

On the unanimous recommendation of Pennsylvania U.S. Senators Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter, Jones was nominated by President George W. Bush on February 28, 2002 to a seat vacated by James McClure as McClure assumed senior status. Jones was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2002 on a unopposed 96-0 vote and received commission on July 31, 2002.[2][1]

Notable cases

Pennsylvania same-sex marriage challenge (2013)

  United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
     *Whitewood, et al v. Wolf, et al Case 1:2013cv01861
On July 9, 2013, in the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, the Pennsylvania ACLU filed suit on behalf of 23 plaintiffs in an attempt to strike the state's ban on gay marriage, alleging that it violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Attorney General Kathleen Kane notably refused to defend the state's law, leaving Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett to step in to handle the task. As part of a stipulation, Attorney General Kane and Governor Corbett were later dropped as defendants and replaced by Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser and Health Secretary Michael Wolf. A motion to dismiss was filed where the state argued that under the United States Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Nelson, a federal court lacked jurisdiction over the state's law. On November 15, 2013, Judge Jones denied the motion, rejecting the notion that the 1972 decision cited by the state left federal courts powerless. On December 9, 2013, the state requested permission to file an interlocutory appeal on the question of law to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and Judge Jones denied that request on December 17, 2013. A trial is scheduled to begin on June 9, 2014.[3][4][5][6]

PA judges set back in retirement age debate (2013)

  United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
     *Lerner, at al v. Corbett, et al Case 1:12-cv-02577-JEJ
In September 2013, Judge Jones dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Pennsylvania judges challenging the state's retirement age law. The judges argued mandatory retirement violates equal protection laws and subjects judges to age discrimination. Judge Jones did not comment on the constitutionality of the law, but found that only the citizens of the state have the authority to change the amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. This ruling seconds the outcome of a similar case in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The plaintiff judges in the case plan to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.[7][8]

"Scopes II": Intelligent design on trial (2005)

  United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
     *Tammy Kitzmiller, et al., v. Dover Area School District, et al., US 04cv2688
In 2005, Jones presided over the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. This case was the first federal court challenge against a public school district that had required the teaching of intelligent design, a religious alternative to evolution. Judge Jones found for the plaintiff, and delivered a scathing rebuke to the school board, whom he stated had "poorly served" their district.[9][10]

Technological advances in the courtroom

Judge Jones was profiled in the April 19, 2010 edition of The Republican Herald since his chambers, along with the rest of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, was moving towards a paperless court. As the courthouse is renovated, every judge will have a electronic organizing system in which they can access each case with the click of a mouse. Jones said: "I can foresee in 10 years that every chamber will be like these chambers. We're predominantly bookless. We don't have huge files hanging around." The new system also allows judges to take their chambers on the road if they have to preside in a different court.[11]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
James McClure
Middle District of Pennsylvania
Seat #1
Succeeded by:

PennsylvaniaSupreme Court of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Superior CourtPennsylvania Commonwealth CourtPennsylvania Court of Common PleasPennsylvania Magisterial DistrictsPhiladelphia Municipal CourtPhiladelphia Traffic CourtPittsburgh Municipal CourtUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of PennsylvaniaUnited States District Court for the Middle District of PennsylvaniaUnited States District Court for the Western District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Middle District of PennsylvaniaUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of PennsylvaniaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Third CircuitPennsylvania countiesPennsylvania judicial newsPennsylvania judicial electionsJudicial selection in PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaTemplate.jpg