Retired Court Commissioner H. Kirkland Jones Dies
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner H. Kirkland Jones, who dedicated his entire bench career to the juvenile justice system, has died at 71.
Jones passed away last Monday at his home, surrounded by family and friends, after succumbing to cancer of the blood, Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger said to his colleagues in an e-mail.
A memorial service is expected to be held sometime mid-month, Czuleger said.
Elected a commissioner in 1988, Jones was initially assigned to Dependency Court. In 1990, he moved to the Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center in South Los Angeles, where he remained until his retirement in March 2005.
From 1975 until his election, Jones served in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, where he was assigned as head deputy of the juvenile division at Kenyon in 1977.
Judge Gregory W. Alarcon, who worked under Jones as a prosecutor in he mid-1980’s, told the MetNews Jones was a “wonderful role model” to the youth he worked with.
“Through the nearly two years I worked at Kenyon, I remember him always taking time to meet with young people through his military service work and counsel them after court hours,” he recalled. “He was probably the happiest person I ever met, who had a zest for life, and inspired everyone he was around.”
Saying Jones “took his obligation to the youth seriously,” Alarcon noted his decision to stay at Kenyon rather than seek other assignments throughout the county.
“[He] really made an impact in that community,” the judge said.
Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash called Jones a “great contributor” to the court and community, explaining:
“He really dealt with kids in an individual way, depending on the needs of each youngster…That attitude towards every youngster enabled him to be very effective and make a difference for many of them.”
Jones’ former court clerk of 15 years, David Caspole, said the commissioner “brought out the best” in everyone at Kenyon, particularly the youths appearing before him.
“He was very tough on the kids, and he held them responsible,” Caspole remarked. “There were a lot of kids who never would have gotten their diplomas if they hadn’t been pushed by Commissioner Jones.”
Speaking to the MetNews on the eve of his retirement, Jones said that a lifetime career in juvenile court was what he had wanted.
“It’s the one area where you can actually make a difference,” the only place in the judicial system where a judge could really do something to save people, he had explained.
Jones was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1973, after earning his law degree from UC Hastings. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of San Francisco.
Born and raised in Chicago, Jones moved to California in the late 1950s.
In addition to his public service, Jones was a veteran supporter of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, remaining an active patron of the arts after his retirement.
Jones is survived by his wife, Yuri, and two sisters who reside in Chicago.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company