Court of Appeals Judge Theodore Jones dead at 68 (37241)

State Court of Appeals Judge Theodore Jones is perhaps best remembered for his ruling in which Transport Workers Union Local 100 was fined $2.5 million for an illegal bus and subway strike in 2005. It was a decision he made two years before being appointed to the state’s highest court by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Jones, 68, succumbed to a heart attack Monday, according to court officials.

Jones, who resided in Rockland County, had recently attended court sessions and a diversity event in Rochester, so his passing came as a shock to his colleagues.

“Judge Jones was a jurist of great talent, intellect and compassion,” said Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in statement to the press. “He was also the gentlest of men, with a wonderful, sunny disposition, great warmth and empathy for all.”

That warmth and empathy was something he shared widely, and a number of prominent New Yorkers were quick to respond to his sudden death.

“Judge Jones was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1990,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after offering his condolences, “and was later appointed administrative judge of the state Supreme Court Civil Term, Kings County, the first African-American to serve in that position … Judge Jones was a tireless advocate for equal justice and inspired many through his public service and work outside the judiciary.

“His contributions to New York’s highest court will be sorely missed,” Cuomo added. “We join his family and friends in mourning his loss.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was equally saddened. “On behalf of district attorneys across the state of New York, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family of Theodore T. Jones, a distinguished jurist, veteran and longtime public servant.

“Ted was not only defined by his exemplary career in the courtroom,” Vance continued, “but as a man loved by everyone privileged to know and work with him for his kindness and decency to all. His loss will be acutely felt by the state’s highest court and the entire legal community.”

Born in Brooklyn, Jones attended public schools in New York City, earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Hampton University in 1965, before serving in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969. He did one tour in Vietnam and was a captain when he left the service.

Almost immediately upon return to civilian life, he entered St. John’s University School of Law in Queens and graduated in 1972. To list but a portion of his varied activities is daunting. He was a member of the board of trustees of St. John’s University, the board of directors of St. John’s University School of Law and the board of directors of Judicial Friends. In addition, he served as co-chairman of the Justice Task Force and as chairman of the Diversity Committee of the Court of Appeals.

“New York has lost a singular jurist and a magnificent human being, and the Court of Appeals and the entire Judiciary have lost and irreplaceable friend, who we all so dearly loved,” said Lippman.

According to the court’s website, Jones is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Joan Sarah Hogans, and two children: Wesley Jones, a software engineer, and Theodore T. Jones III, Esq.

No funeral or memorial plans were available as we went to press.