Judge Robert E. Jones Turns 90

By Adair Law

Friends, family members, and colleagues gathered with Judge Robert E. Jones and his wife Pearl in his chambers in the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse to celebrate his 90th birthday on July 5, 2017.  A full courtroom shared good wishes with Judge Jones, his wife Pearl and his staff while enjoying a large 90th birthday cake, sparkling cider, and other refreshments.

Attorney Jonathan Hoffman serenades Pearl and Robert Jones. Photo by Becky Peer

Attorney and guitar-playing balladeer Jonathan Hoffman regaled the crowd with verses on the life of Judge Jones.  Below are some excerpts of his work:

Did you ever hear of Judge Robert E. Jones?
He knows evidence law, it’s deep in his bones.
He grew up in Portland, mostly stayed out of fights,
Aspired to Upper Multnomah County Jail Heights.


In court every day, and then after dark,
He went to teach classes at Lewis & Clark.
His classes on mortgages were truly sublime
They learned the Eighth Amendment at the same time.
We must tell the truth of his case of renown
The polygraph saga of State v. Brown
Which predated Daubert by ten years or more
And is found at 297 Or. 404.

By now we all know of Judge Robert E. Jones
A judge for whom justice resides in his bones.
Other folks’ praises should augment the din,
But Judge Jones says it’s hearsay and won’t let it in.

After the song, Judge Jones shared home movies taken by his father Howard Jones, an early adopter of the home motion picture camera.  The movies showed young Bobby Jones as a cowboy, dentist, baseball player, and surgeon in skits with his brother and sister.  On a more historical note, there was also film of the marriage of Robert E. Jones to Pearl Jensen.  They celebrated their 69th anniversary in May.


Judges Jones invites his guests to share in a special cake. Photo by Becky Peer

With the completion of the home movies, the crowd shared good cheer and memories of working with Judge Jones.  In honor of this auspicious birthday people brought cards, photographs and special memories of working with Judge Jones.  Judge John Jelderks recalled that he had first met Judge Jones 50 years ago in the Navy reserve as his commanding officer.  It was a wonderful afternoon to acknowledge a great creator and preserver of Oregon legal history.  If you would like to find out more about Judge Jones, you can find his oral history here.