Thomas R. Jones (judge)

Last updated

Thomas Russell Jones, Jr. (August 5, 1913 – October 27, 2006) was an African-American member of the New York State Assembly, a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, and a leading civil rights activist for Black Americans in slums of northern cities.



Jones graduated from St. John's University and from St. John's University School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1938. [1] He worked as an activist in anti-fascism, and in 1941 enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a first lieutenant he participated in the Normandy invasion in 1944. Upon returning to New York, Jones became chief council for the local NAACP branch, mainly involved in cases of police brutality. In 1955, Jones defended three Chinese immigrant workers who had been convicted and sentenced to prison for sedition for "helping Communist China" because they had been sending money home to relatives there. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal. In 1980, Jones delivered a speech in Beijing about the case and the American legal system. [1]

Jones was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly (Kings County, 10th District) in 1963 and 1964. In November 1964, he was elected to the New York City Civil Court, and in November 1967 to the New York Supreme Court. [1]

Jones worked with U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in an effort to improve squalor conditions in ghettos and slums in New York. Underestimating Kennedy's genuine desire to help, and mindful that many other outsiders had come to Bedford–Stuyvesant, examined conditions there, then left without doing anything to help, Jones said cynically,

I'm weary of study, Senator. Weary of speeches, weary of promises that aren't kept... The Negro people are angry, Senator, and, judge that I am, I'm angry, too. No one is helping us. [2]

Jones became the first president of Kennedy's bipartisan grassroots community effort, one of two restoration companies (one for community leaders and one for businessmen) that Kennedy helped found for Bedford–Stuyvesant. The objective was to build health clinics, redevelop housing, build parks and playgrounds, spur commercial activity and investment, and increase employment and political participation amongst the residents. In 1967, Jones helped found the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, which grew out of the initial Kennedy effort. The assassination of Kennedy devastated Jones, and led him to focus more on his judicial career instead of community rebuilding. [1]

Jones retired from the bench in 1985.

Personal life

Jones was born on August 5, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Thomas Russell Jones, Sr. and Mabel (Ward) Jones, immigrants from Barbados. In 1941, he married his wife, Bertha K. Jones, with whom he had a son, David, and a daughter, Margaret. Jones died on October 27, 2006, of prostate cancer, survived by his wife, son and daughter, and five grandchildren. [1]

In other media

Jones was portrayed by actor Ving Rhames in the 2002 TV movie RFK .

Related Research Articles

James Eastland American politician

James Oliver Eastland was an American politician from the state of Mississippi who served in the United States Senate as a Senator in 1941; and again from 1943 until his resignation on December 27, 1978. He has been called the "Voice of the White South" and the "Godfather of Mississippi Politics." A Democrat, Eastland was known as the symbol of Southern resistance to racial integration during the civil rights era, often speaking of blacks as "an inferior race."

Robert Bork 35th Solicitor General of the United States

Robert Heron Bork was an American judge, government official and legal scholar who served as the Solicitor General of the United States from 1973 to 1977. A professor at Yale Law School by occupation, he later served as a judge on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1982 to 1988. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the U.S. Senate rejected his nomination.

2000 Democratic National Convention

The 2000 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention for the Democratic Party. The convention nominated Vice President Al Gore for President and Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut for Vice President. The convention was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California from August 14 to August 17, 2000. Gore accepted the presidential nomination on August 17, the final night of the convention. This was the second Democratic National Convention hosted by Los Angeles, the first being in 1960.

Samuel Alito Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and has served since January 31, 2006.

Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City

Bedford–Stuyvesant is a neighborhood in the north-central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Bedford–Stuyvesant is bordered by Flushing Avenue to the north, Classon Avenue to the west, Broadway to the east, and Atlantic Avenue to the south. The main shopping street, Fulton Street runs east–west the length of the neighborhood and intersects high-traffic north-south streets including Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, and Stuyvesant Avenue. Bedford–Stuyvesant contains four smaller neighborhoods: Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Ocean Hill, and Weeksville. Part of Clinton Hill was once considered part of Bedford–Stuyvesant.

Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination

On October 31, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Samuel Alito for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito's nomination was confirmed by a 58–42 vote of the United States Senate on January 31, 2006.

Bayard family American family

The Bayard family has been a prominent family of lawyers and politicians throughout American history, primarily from Wilmington, Delaware. Beginning as Federalists, they joined the party of Andrew Jackson and remained leaders of the Democratic Party into the 20th century. Counting Richard Bassett, the father-in-law of James A. Bayard, Sr., the family provided six generations of U.S. Senators from Delaware, serving from 1789 until 1929.

Erwin Griswold American lawyer

Erwin Nathaniel Griswold was an appellate attorney who argued many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Griswold served as Solicitor General of the United States (1967–1973) under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. He also served as Dean of Harvard Law School for 21 years. Several times he was considered for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. During a career that spanned more than six decades, he served as member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as President of the American Bar Foundation.

Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination

On July 1, 1991, President George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court of the United States to replace Thurgood Marshall, who had announced his retirement. The nomination proceedings were contentious from the start, especially over the issue of abortion, and many women's groups and civil rights groups opposed Thomas on the basis of his conservative political views, as they had also opposed Bush's Supreme Court nominee from the previous year, David Souter.

I Have a Dream 1963 speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr.

"I Have a Dream" is a public speech that was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement and among the most iconic speeches in American history.

Barack Obama Supreme Court candidates

President Barack Obama made two successful appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States. The first was Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice David H. Souter. Sotomayor was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 6, 2009, by a vote of 68–31. The second appointment was that of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retired John Paul Stevens. Kagan was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 5, 2010, by a vote of 63–37.

Speculation abounded over potential nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States by George H. W. Bush even before his presidency officially began, given the advanced ages of several justices.

Speculation abounded over potential nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States by Ronald Reagan even before his presidency officially began, due to the advanced ages of several justices, and Reagan's own highlighting of Supreme Court nominations as a campaign issue. Reagan had promised "to appoint only those opposed to abortion and the 'judicial activism' of the Warren and Burger Courts". Conversely, some opposed to Reagan argued that he could "appoint as many as five Justices" and would "use the opportunity to stack the Court against women, minorities and social justice".

President Richard Nixon entered office in 1969 with Chief Justice Earl Warren having announced his retirement from Supreme Court of the United States the previous year. Nixon appointed Warren E. Burger to replace Earl Warren, and during his time in office appointed three other members of the Supreme Court: Associate Justices Harry Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, and William Rehnquist. Nixon also nominated G. Harrold Carswell and Clement Haynsworth for the vacancy that was ultimately filled by Blackmun, but the nominations were rejected by the United States Senate. Nixon's failed Supreme Court nominations were the first since Herbert Hoover's nomination of John J. Parker was rejected by the Senate.

Anthony Kennedy American judge

Anthony McLeod Kennedy is an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1988 until his retirement in 2018. He was nominated to the court in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, and sworn in on February 18, 1988. After the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006, he was the swing vote on many of the Roberts Court's 5–4 decisions.

Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination

On May 26, 2009, President Barack Obama announced his selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to replace retiring Justice David Souter. Sotomayor's nomination was submitted to the United States Senate on June 1, 2009, when the 111th Congress reconvened after its Memorial Day recess. Sotomayor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 6, 2009 by a 68–31 vote and was commissioned by President Obama the same day. She was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts on August 8, 2009.

<i>Pappas v. Giuliani</i>

Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2002), was a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was not violated where a police officer was fired for mailing out racially offensive political materials from his home.

Randolph L. Jackson is an attorney, author and retired justice of the New York Supreme Court. He was a co-founder of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, and was the longest-serving justice in the Civil Term of the Kings County Supreme Court, from which he retired in 2010. His writings include Black People in the Bible and How to Get a Fair Trial by Jury.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is a community development corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, and the first ever to be established in the United States.

Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination United States supreme court nomination

On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. When nominated, Kavanaugh was a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a position he was appointed to in 2006 by President George W. Bush.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Chan, Sewell (1 November 2006). "Thomas R. Jones, 93, Judge Who Agitated for Urban Revival". The New York Times . Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  2. Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (2002). Robert Kennedy and His Times. 2. Mariner Books. p. 786. ISBN   978-0618219285 . Retrieved 27 November 2015. [Kennedy] met with a group of community activists, led by state supreme court judge Thomas R. Jones, the leading black politician in the area. The group was irritated and cynical. One said, 'You're another white guy that's out here for the day; you'll be gone and you'll never be seen again. And that's that. We've had enough of that.' Judge Jones said, 'I'm weary of study, Senator. Weary of speeches, weary of promises that aren't kept... The Negro people are angry, Senator, and, judge that I am, I'm angry, too. No one is helping us.'
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Samuel I. Berman
New York State Assembly
Kings County, 17th District

Succeeded by
Shirley Chisholm