Views from the Bench: Judges Debate a Fractured Legal System
Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of New York and District Judge Tierra Jones of Las Vegas will discuss a range of problems in our legal system, including plea deals, sentencing guidelines, and the perils of eyewitness testimony and forensic science.
This program will take place in the Museum’s Historic Courtroom.
Jed Rakoff has been an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School since 1988, and has served since 1996 as a federal district judge for the Southern District of New York. Judge Rakoff earned a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1964, an M.Phil. from Oxford University in 1966, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1969.
After clerking for Judge Abraham L. Freedman on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he was an associate at the Debevoise firm (1970-1972); a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (1973-1980), where he was chief of business and securities fraud prosecutions (1978-1980); and a “white-collar” criminal defense lawyer at two large New York firms, Mudge Rose (1980-1990) and Fried Frank (1990-1996). Since going on the bench in 1996, Rakoff has authored over 1500 judicial opinions, and has also frequently sat by designation on the 2nd, 3rd, and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. He has co-authored five books, written more than 140 published articles, delivered over 600 speeches, and is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.
Rakoff is a Commissioner on the National Commission on Forensic Science and served as co-chair of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Eyewitness Identification. He serves on the executive committee of the New York City Bar Association, where he was chair of the nominating committee, the honors committee, and criminal law committee. He previously served on Swarthmore College’s Board of Managers and on the Governance Board of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Initiative. He has assisted the Departments of Commerce and State in the training of judges in Baghdad, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Istanbul, and Morocco. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Law Institute. He is a judicial fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
Tierra D. Jones
Tierra D. Jones is currently a District Court Judge in Department 10 of the Eighth Judicial District Court.
On April 27, 2017, Governor Sandoval appointed Tierra to the District Court Bench. Tierra became the first African American woman to serve on the District Court in the State of Nevada. Her case assignments consist of both criminal and civil cases. Judge Jones took the bench on May 22, 2017 and began hearing cases. She was set for jury trial on her first day, but the case negotiated before jury selection.
Judge Jones grew up in the small town of Hawthorne Nevada. She attended the William S. Boyd School of Law and obtained her Juris Doctorate in 2006.
Judge Jones has dedicated her legal career to public service. Immediately after law school, she worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Stewart L. Bell in the Eighth Judicial District Court. After passing the State Bar, she worked for the Office of the Clark County Public Defender. She then began her prosecuting career at the Nye County District Attorney’s Office and later moved on to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. During her time as defense attorney and a prosecutor, Judge Jones appeared in court almost every day. She completed more than 35 jury trials, including several high profile cases, and she argued before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Judge Jones has also volunteered several hours of community service within the Las Vegas community. Mentoring young law students has been a priority for her, and she has been able to accomplish this goal through the National Bar Association, and being a volunteer judge and coach for mock trial and moot court. She has also reached out to other sectors of the Las Vegas community through the Junior League of Las Vegas and Leadership Las Vegas. Junior League of Las Vegas assists children in the community by providing everything from scholarship, mentoring, a career fair, education grants, and even a fashion show. Through Leadership Las Vegas she has helped to promote leaders from all different professional areas of the community.