I had been licensed ninety-two days when I had to choose between my own freedom and upholding my duty to protect my client’s Constitutional Rights. The public defender I worked for had an ongoing dispute with a local judge, which I bore the brunt of. One day, the judge assigned me to a particular case at 10:00 in the morning. Trial of that individual’s case was scheduled to begin at 11:00 that morning. I told the judge that an hour is insufficient time to prepare, my client had disclosed numerous witnesses who could provide an alibi for his whereabouts during the time of the fight upon which his assault charge rested. The judge gave me an additional two hours to prepare. I told the judge that three hours was still insufficient to prepare for the trial because the witnesses had not been contacted and were likely unavailable.
The judge gave me an ultimatum: if I refused the case, I would be held in contempt and taken into custody. Over the next few hours, I reached out to my supervisors and found none available. I reached out to other, more experienced counsel to seek advice from and found none available. All on my own and with no guidance, I had to rely on my instincts. Never once did the thought of going to trial on the case cross my mind. I decided to look to the Fourth Estate for help: I called the local newspaper. I told them they needed to send a reporter to the courthouse, a lawyer was about to go to jail at 1:00pm. When the reporter arrived, the judge had some choice words for him, blasting him for covering what the judge considered an insignificant event. The judge then ordered me to begin trial. I started citing Constitutional provisions, case law, ethical rules, and statutory codes for reasons why I could not try the case at that moment. The judge refused to listen.
I insisted that my client had the Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and that I was not going to try the case unprepared. The judge again ordered me to try the case and I again cited the United States constitution, the Ohio constitution, case law, statutory law, and ethical codes. He overruled my objection, denied my request for a continuance, and told me that if I did not give an opening statement, I would be taken into custody. When I yet again cited the United States constitution, the Ohio constitution, case law, statutory law, and ethical codes, he had me taken into custody. The media coverage that resulted from this incident generated a rift in my office and two months later, I left and started my own practice. Such is the origin story of The Law Office of Brian Jones.
I know, personally, what it’s like to be falsely accused of a crime. I was in high school, when I was falsely accused of fleeing the scene of an accident. At that time, I was intending to go into education and I was volunteering at an elementary school to gain experience. My volunteering time was during the school day, so I had to go from the high school, over to the elementary school, and then back to the high school for the remainder of my classes and extracurriculars. One day, I got home from my high school classes and a police officer came to my house. He accused me of hitting a parent’s car at the elementary school and fleeing the scene.
The allegation wasn’t true but my car was a beater and had minor damage on the bumper, so the officer had made up his mind that I had hit the accuser’s car. He issued me a ticket for failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious misdemeanor in Ohio. If convicted, it would ruin my future, so I set out to defend myself. I was fortunate enough to have parents who believed me and had the means to hire a well-respected attorney. I went to trial on the case because the prosecutor refused to make any plea offers and I didn’t do what they accused me of doing. At the trial, I took the stand and testified on my own behalf and I was acquitted of all of the charges. It was an incredibly stressful situation.
More recently, I went through a divorce. There was a pretty heated custody battle between my ex-wife and me and during the proceeding, she threatened to coerce the children into claiming that I sexually assaulted her. By that point of my life, I had been a litigator for many years and I was savvier than the average person. I was recording all of my conversations with my wife at the time and I was able to use that recording of her threat to head off her scheme. I have walked the paths both of being falsely accused and being threatened with false accusations of sexual assault and I know first-hand how easy it is to become the target of false allegations.
By the time I got to law school, my philosophical path was to fight for the little guy. I had done trial advocacy and mock trial competitions through high school and college and I knew trial work was my calling in life. Criminal defense was then and continues to be the perfect marriage of those callings. I look at the might and resources of the government and I’m disgusted by their cutting of corners, abuse of inuendo and prejudice, and ephemeral relationship with truth and honor. I, therefore, place myself between the government and my client’s freedom and declare, Molon Labe—Come and Take Them—if you can get through me.
- University of Akron School of Law, Akron, Ohio
- Ohio Wesleyan University
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio
- U.S. Federal Courts
- Portage County Ohio, Assistant Public Defender
- President’s Commendation for Outstanding Service to the goal’s and objectives of the NACDL, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
- American Bar Association, Member
- Ohio State Bar Association, Member
- Delaware Bar Association, Member
- National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Member
- Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Member