There’s not much that Barbara S. Jones ’68 hasn’t seen in her legal career. The Mount Saint Mary’s University alumna served for 17 years as a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, presiding over cases relating to securities fraud, antitrust, corruption, labor racketeering and terrorism.
Jones retired from the court in 2013 to pursue private practice, but she has been called back into service recently to lend her expertise in a high-profile case. On April 26, New York federal judge Kimba Wood appointed Jones as “special master” in the case the federal government is bringing against Michael Cohen, an attorney who worked as a lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump. Cohen is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for possible bank and wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
Jones’ role will be to ensure that proper procedure is being followed in this complex, highly charged case, and to keep the case moving forward in a timely fashion. She will also help decide which materials seized by the government in the case against Cohen are protected by attorney-client privilege — and which ones are not. According to a CBS News story on Jones’ appointment, “Jones will have access to all the discovery, to the search warrant and its application, and she will discern the question of privilege.”
Also in the article, Judge Wood noted that Jones has the “right amount of experience to handle the study of materials seized in the April 9 raids that targeted attorney Michael Cohen.”
Jones earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Mount Saint Mary’s and went on to receive her JD from Temple University School of Law. Before serving as a federal judge, she spent more than 20 years as a prosecutor. Jones began her career as a special attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering, Criminal Division. She later served 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, rising to become chief of both the General Crimes Unit and the Organized Crime Unit in the district.
Jones was appointed to her federal judgeship in 1995 and retired from the bench in 2013. In 2013-2014, Jones chaired the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel — created by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 — aimed at assessing the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual assaults in the military. The panel issued a report to Congress in 2014 with 132 new recommendations made to the U.S. Department of Defense.