U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones will be honored by his alma mater, the University of Washington, and will receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor over the next few days.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones has a busy few days ahead of him.
On Thursday night, he will be honored by his alma mater, the University of Washington, with the Charles E. Odegaard Award, presented annually to individuals “whose leadership in the community exemplifies the former UW president’s work on behalf of diversity.”
Jones will receive the award at a fundraising dinner and celebration at the Husky Union Building, hosted by the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.
From there, Jones will fly to New York City, where on Saturday he will join a group of 90 people from around the country, ranging from medical researchers to military generals, who will receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a ceremony on Ellis Island, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
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The medal is sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) and is awarded each year to “a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration.”
Past recipients include six U.S. presidents, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other notable Americans, including Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali, according to NECO’s website.
Also among past recipients is legendary music producer Quincy Jones, who is Jones’ half-brother.
“I am deeply honored to be the recipient of these awards and to be recognized by these organizations,” Jones said during a courtroom break Tuesday. “What I do here, I believe in, in terms of reaching back and helping people.”
“Judge Jones’ work in the legal field, as well as his commitment to supporting and advancing the lives of youth of color in our community, is extraordinary,” said Gabriel Gallardo, UW interim vice president for minority affairs and the vice provost for diversity.
“He embodies the best of what it means to be a graduate of the University of Washington, and we look forward to celebrating his outstanding dedication to social justice, equity and education opportunity.”
Jones, 65, was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2007. He had served 13½ years as a King County Superior Court judge at the time, and his nomination received bipartisan support.
Jones attended Seattle University, where he received a bachelor of public-affairs degree in 1972. He received his law degree from the UW Law School in 1975. He has spent much of his career working with youth, and now serves on the National Board of the YMCA.
He co-founded two Seattle-area law-student programs: The Northwest Minority Job Fair and the First Year Minority Clerkship Program.
While on the bench in state court, Jones presided over hundreds of trials and criminal prosecutions, including accepting the plea of Gary Ridgway, the notorious Green River killer who pleaded guilty to 49 murders in exchange for being spared the death penalty.
In federal court, he handles both civil and criminal cases, including presiding over the prosecution of Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called Barefoot Bandit.