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January 25, 2011

COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE THEODORE T. JONES PRESENTED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD BY STATE BAR'S COMMITTEE ON DIVERSITY

Judge Jones honored for work promoting professional opportunities for minorities in court system and improving confidence in the justice system

ALBANY- Hon. Theodore T. Jones, associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the New York State Bar Association on January 24 during its Annual Meeting at the Hilton New York in Manhattan. Sponsored by the State Bar's Committee on Diversity, the award honors individuals whose lifelong contributions have enhanced diversity in the legal profession.

The committee singled out Jones for his outstanding four-decade-long legal career and his unwavering commitment to creating professional opportunities for minorities in the court system as well as his work improving the minority communities' understanding of and confidence in the justice system.

"Judge Theodore T. Jones has earned the respect and admiration of the entire legal profession for his excellence as a judge, public servant, and advocate for diversity. He is deeply committed to ensuring that the courts live up to the promise of equal justice and opportunity for all," said Kenneth G. Standard of New York (Epstein Becker and Green, P.C.), co-chair of the Committee on Diversity and a past president of the State Bar. "I am delighted to present this award to Judge Jones. He is richly deserving of this honor."

 "Judge Theodore T. Jones is a leader, a portrait of courage and a wonder worker.  His dedication to the development and advancement of diversity in the profession is exemplary. His work and leadership has inspired and motivated many students to enter the legal profession.  He has guided and mentored many attorneys, judges and court personnel to seek positions of leadership within the NYS Office of Court Administration, and in the private and public sector," said Betty Lugo of Brooklyn (Pacheco & Lugo, PLLC), co-chair of the Committee on Diversity. "The Committee on Diversity proudly honors his lifelong dedication and leadership in advancing and promoting the diversity of the legal profession and the court system."

As chairman of the Court of Appeals' Diversity Committee, Judge Jones is currently leading a statewide initiative to increase minority presence in the New York State court system. This past year he hosted an event at Touro Law School for high school students from two predominantly minority-attended high schools on Long Island to encourage these students to consider the legal profession, particularly the court system, when choosing careers.

He also developed a "Film Festival" concept to which area courts invite students from predominantly low-income and minority high schools. The students view well-known film depictions of the justice system. This format has proven to be an effective means of getting young people to open up and engage in a frank dialogue about justice in their communities. At these events, the students also meet judges and court employees, learn about the mission and function of the courts, and hear about career opportunities. The first Film Festival took place in Suffolk County and had 250 student participants. A second took place in Buffalo in October. A third is planned for the Albany area.

Judge Jones co-chairs the New York State Court of Appeals Justice Task Force, which is studying the causes and effects of wrongful convictions in New York, including the devastating impact such miscarriages of justice have had on poor, minority communities. He also played an instrumental role in supporting the creation of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John's Law School. The center engages in legal studies, research and outreach focused on issues that affect the lives of underrepresented minorities and educates law students on how to be leaders on issues of racial, economic and social justice.

Judge Jones received his undergraduate degree from Hampton University and earned his law degree from St. John's University School of Law. He was elected to the State Supreme Court of New York in 1990 and later appointed the first African-American administrative judge of the State Supreme Court, Civil Term, Kings County. He was nominated to the New York State Court of Appeals in January 2007 and confirmed by the State Senate in February. He is a member of the board of trustees of St. John's University, a member of the board of directors of St. John's University School of Law, and of the Judicial Friends, which is a group of African-American judges dedicated to ensuring equal participation and opportunity for minorities in the justice system.

Previous recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award include: Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, senior associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals; Hon. George Bundy Smith, retired associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals and currently a partner of Chadbourne & Parke LLP; and Hon. George N. Leighton, retired, U.S. District Court Judge, Northern District of Illinois.

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for 135 years.

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