Recently a story broke where a federal judge in North Carolina was convicted on charges of corruption. Judge Arnold O. Jones, II was charged with paying bribes, paying gratuities and attempted corrupt influence on an official proceeding.He was represented by federal criminal defense attorneys who did their best to make sure that he was given a fair trial.There was a five-day trial, following which a jury took 33 minutes to convict the judge. Jones will be sentenced in January and he faces up to 37 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000. During that trial, evidence was presented that showed that Jones traded cases of beers and $100 to induce and manipulate a FBI Task Force Official to order Verizon to turn over his wife’s text messages and disclose the content of those message to him. The FBI Task Force Officer turned Jones in once he had been contacted and got permission to further investigate the case. The evidence that the FBI found was enough to obtain an indictment and eventually a conviction. Jones wanted the information on his wife’s phone to prove that she had been having an affair.
It is a story like this as well as the other stories that we hear about closer to home in Orange County that make us think how “just” the system really is. If this FBI Task Force Officer had been a rule breaker instead of a rule follower or if the judge had offered more to him in return for his help in this matter perhaps we would never even know of this incident. We would continue to trust someone to make just decisions based on evidence and hold the rule of the law above all else. It’s alarming to think that even this high in the justice system there is corruption and without people looking for it and reporting it, the general public would never even know. In this case, the judge knew what he was doing was entirely against the law and he spent a large part of his career punishing others for breaking the laws he was appointed to uphold.
Federal bribery is an issue that the general American public would never even hear about or consider unless cases like this come to light. If federal officers, judges, and even prosecutors can be bought, then where does justice stand? How can federal criminal defense attorney’s fight corruption they may not even know exists? These are all questions that need to be answered—they will determine how “justice” comes to exist in this nation. Jones is currently on administrative leave but he is up for re-election in November. There will likely be an inquiry on the part of the judicial standards commission—a commission that is supposed to look out for and investigate claims like these as well as investigation from the North Carolina State Bar. Hopefully those investigations can bring more light on the situation and determine whether this was an isolated situation or if Jones has been making decisions he knew to be illegal in other situations where he was not caught.