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Law School Bids Farewell to Legal Pioneer C. Paul Jones (’50)

APRIL 22, 2011—C. Paul Jones (’50), Minnesota’s first public defender, an adjunct professor at the Law School for 20 years, and a professor at William Mitchell College of Law for 50 years, passed away April 19, 2011, in Minneapolis. He was 84.

Jones began his role as public defender in 1966, when the main office was housed in the windowless basement of the old Law School building. The office, under Jones’ guidance, oversaw the Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners civil law clinic. Many Law School students participated in the clinic and benefited from Jones’ commitment to justice. He retired as public defender in 1990.

"C. Paul Jones helped build Minnesota’s public defender system from the ground up," said a 2007 Minnesota Law & Politics article that included Jones in its "100 Most Influential Minnesota Lawyers of All Time" review. “He is credited for many of the improvements in the state’s representation of criminal defendants and inmates,” the article said, and he earned a reputation “for hiring women at a time when many firms weren’t even interviewing them.”

Jones grew up during the depression, first in North Dakota and later in Minneapolis. After his father passed away when Jones was a teenager, his mother went to work as a bookkeeper, and Jones took on various jobs to pay for undergraduate business administration and law degrees at the University of Minnesota.

His legal career began in Duluth, where he worked as an associate for a year before becoming an assistant deputy Hennepin County attorney. During six years at that post, he completed an LL.M. at what is now William Mitchell. From 1959 until becoming public defender in 1966, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota and practiced with Maun & Hazel in St. Paul and Dorfman, Rudquist, Jones & Ramstead in Minneapolis.

Jones served on the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Criminal Procedure for 42 years and the Minnesota Citizens Council on Crime and Justice for 20 years. The Minnesota Criminal Justice Institute, which he founded in 1966, continues to bring together judges, attorneys, law students, and police officers each year to study developments in criminal law.

At William Mitchell, he taught constitutional and criminal law as an adjunct professor from 1953-70, as a full-time professor from 1971-2001, then as an emeritus professor. In 1991-95, he served as associate dean for academic affairs.

During those busy years as a prosecutor with the Hennepin County attorney’s office, Jones found time to date Helen Fredel, who had completed her bachelor’s degree at the University in 1950 and was working as a juvenile probation officer with Hennepin County. The two had been married for 53 years when Jones died on April 19 and Helen died on April 20 at age 82.

Paul and Helen are survived by daughters Katherine and Sara (’88), senior major gifts officer in the Law School’s Office of Advancement, as well as by grandchildren. The family encourages anyone wishing to honor the couple to direct memorials to the C. Paul and Helen F. Jones, Katie and Sara Jones Scholarship Fund at the Law School and the C. Paul and Helen F. Jones Scholarship at William Mitchell.

A visitation for Paul and Helen will be held April 26 from 5 to 8:00 p.m. at Washburn McReavy, 5000 West 50th & Highway 100, Edina, MN 55436. The service will be at 3:00 p.m. on April 27 at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55419.


C. Paul Jones

C. Paul Jones (’50)