This evening, I was contact by former District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who wanted to let me know that retired Assistant D.A. Ira Jones passed away over the weekend.
Ira was a senior narcotics prosecutor in Special Crimes when I started at the Office in 1999. I can't say that I knew him very well, but he had a reputation as a no-nonsense, hard-nosed prosecutor. In all honesty, I was kind of scared of him the first couple of years I worked there.
Somewhere around 2002 or so, I ran into Ira at Fogo de Chao and I stopped by his table to say hello. He had never been there before and he was really enthusiastic about it. Every time I would see him around the Office after that, he would always stop and talk about Fogo. Apparently it was a life changing experience for him. But I always enjoyed talking to him. As it turned out, that scary, hard-nosed prosecutor was actually a pretty nice guy when you got to know him.
I can't say that I ever got to know Ira well, but every time I would see him, he would always come over and say hello. It doesn't really seem like it was all that long ago when I last saw him.
But Ira was an icon at the Office. He was a throwback to the old school prosecutors of eras gone by and everyone knew him as such.
I remember one time being in court and bantering back and forth with the late, great Rayford Carter, who wanted a deferred on a burglary of a building case. I told Rayford if he could remember the names of five prosecutors, I would give him the deferred. He immediately named Chuck Rosenthal, but then stalled out on naming another.
After thinking it over for a minute, he made winced and then slowly said: "Ira Jones," as if speaking of his prosecutorial nemesis physically pained him. I told Ira that story once and he thought it was pretty funny.
Ira had a bout with cancer during his time at the Office, but I don't recall him missing much work. He lost all of his hair, but it looked good on him. We bonded over our hair cuts there for a bit, too.
Unfortunately, it looks like his cancer came back. According to his friends' posting on Facebook, Ira passed away at MD Anderson over the weekend. Although I wasn't close to him, I find myself very sad to hear the news.
He was a true character of the Harris County Criminal Justice System.