Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, November 1, 2013
Local judge wants more bench time
Defense lawyer challenges longtime incumbent

Longtime Florida Keys incumbent circuit Judge Mark Jones announced Thursday he is running for re-election.

"It has been an honor and privilege to serve as a judge for the past 17 years," Jones said in a prepared release. "The people of the Keys can count on Mark Jones to continue to work hard and make fair and just decisions."

Jones was first elected in 1996. During that 17-year run, he has presided over some of the most high-profile criminal cases in Monroe County, including nearly all the murder cases in the Lower Keys in the last five years.

Jones was also the driving force behind a team of counselors, attorneys and court workers who make up drug court, and has been the presiding judge over the program for more than 14 years.

The Dartmouth College graduate is also the 16th Judicial Circuit's family law administrative judge.

Jones, 60, has lived in the Keys for 34 years having first arrived in 1980 as a Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) lawyer in 1980. After leaving the Navy he went into private practice before working as an assistant public defender.

Married with two sons, Jones is an avid fisherman, writer and serves on the board of directors for Big Brothers and Sisters of Monroe County.

Jones will face another familiar face at the Key West courthouse, former Monroe County Chief Assistant State Attorney Donald Barrett.

Barrett is currently working as a private defense lawyer, but has nine years total experience as a prosecutor in the Keys, as well as in Third Judicial Circuit in northern Florida.

Barrett has 15 years trial experience and has tried 50 jury cases. He and his wife have three children.

The general election is Nov. 4, 2014.

Judicial races are a different than other more political races in that judicial ethics rules generally dictate they are non-partisan. As a result, judicial races often, but not always, lack the mud-slinging and rhetoric more common in other elections.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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