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Jones shows gratitude by helping others

Jones shows gratitude by helping others

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Richard Jones Assistant State Public Defender (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
Richard Jones
Assistant State Public Defender (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Richard Jones is driven to give back to his community.

An assistant state public defender at the Office of State Public Defender in Dane County, Jones is never stingy with his time. Anyone looking for him outside the office could easily find him helping kids play basketball and volunteering in projects to help the homeless.

Jones credits his mentors for instilling in him a desire to help others.

“We didn’t have a lot and I spent time at the community center hanging out,” he said. “One summer, I got into a fight and the ‘punishment’ was to read two to three hours a day. That (reading) opened up my world.”

Jones’ interest in the law came from watching Perry Mason and seeing the way his uncle was treated when he was faced with legal trouble.

“I was intrigued by the idea of justice, but it never dawned on me to be a prosecutor. I always wanted to be a defender,” said Jones, who has worked for the SPD for 18 years.

Earlier in this career, Jones handled a variety of cases, but now mainly defends clients in homicide and Chapter 980 cases.

“I take my client’s story, package it with the law and tell it to the judge and jury,” he continued. “My clients and I are in this together. I definitely build up camaraderie with them.”

Jones is dedicated to both his clients and society as a whole, said Marshall Reeves, IS comprehensive services specialist with the SPD.

“Richard lives and breathes for providing justice during his personal and work time,” he said. “He is passionate about resolving injustices within the court system.”

Jones has not forgotten about those who helped him. He tells a story about how one of his former mentors was a bailiff in a Racine courtroom where Jones had previously worked. Every time Jones saw him, he walked over and gave the bailiff a big hug before heading to his spot in the courtroom.

“One day, the judge stopped the procedures to ask why I always gave his big old bailiff a hug,” Jones said. “I told him that if it wasn’t for him and all the other men who helped me that I would be walking in that door – and I pointed to the door where the defendants enter the courtroom – instead of that door – pointing back to the door where I just entered. I really owe it to give something back in honor of everything done for me.”

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