Order stayed if conditions are met
The North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Commission has suspended the law license of a Lillington attorney for several unprofessional actions, according to a consent order of discipline dated Feb. 12.
That suspension has been stayed, however, as long as Jesse Jones complies with a number of requirements including continuing to seek therapy. Specifically, according to the order, Mr. Jones was called out for a number of outbursts and intimidation incidents.
There were five incidents. The first took place Jan. 24, 2013, when Mr. Jones confronted opposing counsel, Chad Wunsch, in a domestic case. Mr. Wunsch’s client was present. “Jones became upset and started yelling and otherwise acting in an unprofessional manner,” the findings of the fact in the order said.
On Feb. 28, 2013, Mr. Jones called opposing counsel, Heather Williams, in another domestic case and yelled and cursed at her, the findings show.
On April 11, 2013, during mediation “Jones jumped up and stormed into the room where the opposing party was located and screamed at her, pounding his fists on the table and cursing her.”
On April 18, 2013, in an effort to dismiss cross warrants in a domestic case, when opposing counsel Gerald Hayes “found Jones in the lawyers’ lounge and proposed that they should go get rid of the criminal charges, Jones got in Hayes’ face and yelled and cursed at him,” the findings said.
On May 28, 2015, Mr. Jones confronted a couple who were witnesses against a criminal defendant Mr. Jones represented by aiming his phone camera at them and either took their picture or pretended to. The couple believed that “Jones did this to intimidate them as potential witnesses or to harass them,” the findings said.
In all those incidents the North Carolina State Bar ruled that Mr. Jones “engaged in undignified or discourteous conduct” that had “no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person.” The bar found Mr. Jones had violated several rules of professional conduct.
The North Carolina State Bar’s report said Mr. Jones acknowledges his actions were inappropriate and that he has since stopped representing clients in domestic cases.
Mr. Jones did not comment but his wife Sue Tillery did.
She said her husband is passionate about clients, especially if he feels they are being mistreated. She questioned the timing of this ruling in that the incidents took place in 2013. She said her husband heard nothing from the bar until he started speaking out on his client dying in the jail, a man who was shot to death by his stepfather and there was no charges and finally a man who was shot and killed by a deputy at the man’s home. A Harnett County Grand Jury declined to indict the deputy.
“He didn’t hear anything from (about the complaint) until the deadly force articles. He didn’t hear anything in three years until a week after the deadly force articles hit the paper,” Mrs. Tillery said.
The bar report also said Mr. Jones was admonished in 1999 for loaning a client money to get out on bond. He was also reprimanded in 2008 for speaking to the press and playing an audiotape of evidence pending the disposition of his client’s case.
“The hearing panel has considered admonition, reprimand and censure as potential discipline but finds that any sanction less than suspension would fail to acknowledge the seriousness of the offenses committed by Jones,” the order said.
As a result, Mr. Jones was suspended from practice for a year. However, that was delayed for three years if Mr. Jones continues to seek treatment as often as recommended by the therapist, but not less than quarterly.
He also cannot violate state or federal laws, must pay fees associated with the action, shall not violate any more rules of professional conduct and pay his state bar dues.
Mr. Jones is a Harnett County Chapter of the NAACP Humanitarian Award winner. Courtesy The Daily Record