Paul Jones (judge)

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Paul Jones
Paul Jones (1902).jpg
Jones cropped from 1902 Michigan team photo
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
In office
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byFrank Le Blond Kloeb
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
In office
March 2, 1923 – August 4, 1965
Appointed byWarren G. Harding
Preceded bySeat established by 42 Stat. 837
Succeeded byWilliam Kernahan Thomas
Personal details
Paul J. Jones

(1880-11-04)November 4, 1880
Youngstown, Ohio
DiedAugust 4, 1965(1965-08-04) (aged 84)
Shaker Heights, Ohio
EducationUniversity of Michigan Law School (LL.B.)
Coaching career
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1904–1905Western Reserve
Head coaching record

Paul J. Jones (November 4, 1880 – August 4, 1965) was an American football player and coach and United States federal judge. He played fullback for the University of Michigan's national championship football team in 1902 and became the football coach at Western Reserve University after graduating from Michigan. He practiced law from 1905 to 1920 and served as an Ohio state court judge from 1920 to 1923. In 1923, he was appointed as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, a position he held until his death in 1965.

Early years and football career[edit]

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Jones attended the University of Michigan where he studied law and also played football. Jones worked in a Youngstown boiler shop for five cents an hour during his summer vacations.[1] He was the starting fullback on Fielding H. Yost's 1902 "Point-a-Minute" football team that finished the season 11–0 and outscored opponents 644 to 12.[2] After the 1901 season, one account read "His work at fullback has been exceptionally good, and he is regarded as the most available man for that position next year."[3] Jones was a popular player, and in October 1902 newspaper accounts reported that he led the students in singing the "varsity yell" at a "singing bee" preceding the football game against Wisconsin.[4] Jones was six-feet tall and weighed 170 pounds as Michigan's fullback in 1902.[5] After being a starter on the 1902 Michigan Wolverines football team, Jones contracted typhoid fever and was unable to play in 1903. In March 1903, Jones left the university for a year to recuperate from the effects of typhoid fever.[6] Jones received an Bachelor of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School in 1904.[7] Jones was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1904, but after graduating from Michigan, he was hired as the head football coach at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.[7]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Western Reserve (Ohio Athletic Conference) (1904–1905)
1904 Western Reserve 4–2–3 1–1–1 T–3rd
1905 Western Reserve 6–3 1–2 4th
Western Reserve: 10–5–3 2–3–1
Total: 10–5–3


Jones entered the private practice of law in Youngstown in 1905. He was a Referee in Bankruptcy for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio from 1912 to 1916. Jones was appointed Youngstown city attorney, a position he held from 1916 to 1920.[7] He also ran for Mayor of Youngstown, an election he lost by 400 votes.[7] In 1920, he was elected as a Court of Common Pleas Judge for Mahoning County, Ohio, serving in that role from 1920 to 1923.[7]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Jones was nominated by President Warren G. Harding to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on February 28, 1923, to a new seat created by 42 Stat. 837.[8] Confirmed by the United States Senate on March 2, 1923, he received his commission the same day.[8] He served as Chief Judge from 1948 to 1959, as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 1958 to 1960, and remained on the court until his death on August 4, 1965.[8] At the time of his death at age 84, Jones was the oldest active district court judge in the United States and the last appointed by President Harding.[9] He had announced plans to retire on November 4, 1965 on his 85th birthday due to illness.[7] He died at his home in Shaker Heights, Ohio.[9]

Notable cases and judicial philosophy[edit]

Jones developed a reputation for his outspoken comments from the bench. In 1932, as Prohibition was being widely blamed with causing the spread of racketeering and organized crime, Judge Jones asserted that the influence of Prohibition on crime was exaggerated.[1] In 1933, Judge Jones gained attention when he sentenced a 46-year-old pregnant mother of ten to 15 days in jail for selling a quart of liquor to federal agents for 50 cents.[10] He refused the woman's plea for leniency, saying: "It is an outrage for this woman to be bringing children into the world when she and her husband cannot support those they already have without breaking the law."[10] As he sentenced her, Judge Jones lectured her on the advantages of birth control, closing his comments by asking, "Doesn't this woman know how to stop it?"[1]

In 1934, he criticized "windy lawyers" for their "briefs of Voltairian proportions" which "unduly burden the court and tire it out."[1]

Jones gained national attention in 1946 when he ruled that rent control laws were unconstitutional. He held that, while rent control may have been permissible during the wartime emergency, Congress lacked the power to continue the restrictions "when peace has returned in fact."[1]

In 1947, the NEA wire service ran a feature article about Judge Jones and his rent control decision in which it observed:

If you either own or rent an apartment, you either love or hate Federal Judge Paul Jones. Judge Jones, of the Northern Ohio District Court, handed down the ruling that the rent law is unconstitutional. If sustained by higher courts, his decision means, simply, that all rent controls are over and done for, that landlords can charge all the traffic will bear and that tenants can pay or get out.[1]

Jones' ruling was later reversed by the United States Supreme Court. Jones continued to contend that his ruling had been correct.[7]


Jones was married to Caroline Bonnell, a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, in 1924. They had a son, Paul Jones Jr., and a daughter, Mrs. Mary Chilcote.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Richard Kleiner (December 1, 1947). "Outspoken Judge Jones: He Startled U. S. With His Rent Decision, But He Has No Opinion About His Opinion". Cumberland Evening Times.
  2. ^ "1902 Michigan Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  3. ^ Jesse J. Ricks (1901). The Michigan Daily-News Football Year-Book. Ann Arbor Printing Company. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  4. ^ "In the Sporting World". Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. October 24, 1902.
  5. ^ "1902 Michigan Football Roster". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  6. ^ "The Sporting News". The Fort Wayne News. March 23, 1903.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Federal Judge Dies Today In Shaker Heights". Marysville Journal-Tribune. August 4, 1965.
  8. ^ a b c Paul J. Jones at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  9. ^ a b "Jones, Oldest Active U.S. Judge, Dies At 84". Portsmouth Times. August 5, 1965.
  10. ^ a b "JAIL MOTHER FOR SELLING LIQUOR". Zanesville Signal. January 10, 1933.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 42 Stat. 837
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
Succeeded by
William Kernahan Thomas
Preceded by
Office established
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
Succeeded by
Frank Le Blond Kloeb