Monday, November 20, 2017

Ira Jones

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.


Anonymous said...


I'd last seen Ira Jones many months ago at the local Kroger store in the Heights. At first I didn't recognize him because he had gotten heavy and wore a cap. He spoke, asking "How's everything in the courthouse?" and then I instantly recognized him. we spoke for a moment about a favorite type of weapon - the Glock.

He lived in the Heights and I remember him as a prosecutor, having myself worked several decades in various capacities in the system. I was the first so-called "JIMS person" for the district attorney's office in the mid-70s when the direct intake process was being worked out.

I did not realize that he had been ill at all.

Wayne B.

Anonymous said...

Ira was my first felony chief. As a new No. 3 in the 180th (Lykos at the time), I learned a great deal from watching him in trial in some of the major capital murders of the 80s. He was an incredible mentor with a great sense of humor (although I was too green to appreciate it at the time). Rest in peace, Brother.

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