Out of the Crackpot, into the Fire

The former Lake County justice of the peace resigned last month after he became the subject of sexual harassment complaints. But that hasn’t stopped Edwin Jonas, a radical conservative with ethical baggage of his own, from jumping into the race.

Justices of the peace make life-changing decisions for others in court.  They handle things like DUIs, search warrants, poaching, probation and parole violations, misdemeanor crimes–even initial felony filings.

Yet the post requires little in terms of qualifications.   You don’t need any legal training or even a high school diploma to run. The only qualifications required by law in order to run for the job, says a Lake County Commissioner are that you “be at least 18 years old, and breathing. And, I think you have to have been a resident of the county for a certain amount of time.”

Candidates aren’t even required to have a squeaky-clean background.

Enter Edwin Jonas.  Jonas was a New Jersey lawyer–until a court suspended his licence to practice law for, “engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”   Montanans may remember Jonas as one of the world class candidates GOP leadership nominated to be Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices. Intelligent Discontent reported on Jonas’s nomination here.

Edwin Jonas IIIAlthough Republican leaders may think this is the perfect guy to be passing judgement on Montanans,  I doubt the good people of Lake County will agree.  Especially after the last guy left under a cloud.

Not only does Jonas have ethics problems in his past, he also has some wacky beliefs.  Seems this guy is a member of a select group of wingnuts who signed a wacky anti-government pledge.

Jonas, along with Derek Skees, Tim Ravndal, and Neil Livingstone pledged to, “defend state sovereignty” and to  ”oppose, or modify to eliminate, or negate, every Federal law, regulation, or bureaucracy” deemed not wingnutty enough. (Probably the Civil Rights Act is on the list.)  As James Conner at the Flathead Memo reports, after reading this pledge  “you might, in a contemplative moment, hear the faint click of boots as self-appointed militiamen march through darkened streets by torchlight.”

The voters of Lake County will have to decide whether someone with these beliefs should hold any government office–little alone a judicial one.  The outgoing Justice told the Missoulian that he resigned because, “Judges are – and should be – held to very high standards of conduct, both in their professional and personal affairs.”  On this issue anyway, he’s right.

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33 Comments on "Out of the Crackpot, into the Fire"

  1. Is it just me or does Lake County seem to have an overabundance of these types?

    • Seems to,although some are better options than others. A lot of good old boys around it seems. This article highlights the importance of doing your homework before voting.

  2. Who else is running for this office? Who are somebody the better options?

  3. What is it with lake county? This guy does appear he would fit right in with the cleetus and rosco p. Coltrane law enforcement they have going on out there. How about some investigative reporting on the fwp officer who was re-assigned to the dnrc from the investigation of lake county law enforcement for poaching violations? Whats that all about anyone know?

  4. If no law degree is required, Rick Hill should run.

    • I don’t know much about Joey Jayne??? Any thoughts????????/

    • Joey Jayne is a former legislator- she has a law degree and has not been disbarred. Seems like a good pick.

    • This position does require JP to be a Lake County resident which Jonas is not.

      • If not Lake County, what is Jonas’ present address?
        The facts about him available on the internet reveal a documented and disturbing disregard of the justice system (and rules) in several states over the past 20 plus years and presently in Montana. To misrepresent his address appears to be only the tip of the iceberg.

        • Most recent article in Leader is basically false. His claims do not jive with reality. The supreme courts of New Jersey, Florida and Montana as well as numerous other courts have come down hard on him for years and for good reasons. Once again, as in the past, he puts blame for his own actions on ‘corrupt’ judges. Does he not know that this is all a matter of public record. People are not just going to take his word that he is the champion of justice….reality demonstrates that he is far from this. Your right the address is only the tip of a very large iceberg….look it up if you have doubts. You are also right that this is very disturbing.

  5. Well put. Where does he actually live?

  6. I have done my research. This is the case of when bad things happen to good people. He’s a decent guy, but he’s been kicked down for so many years, it’s worn him down. You’d be a little overly zealous too. Ex-wife is the real nut; still has her claws in him 20 plus years.

    • Perhaps it would be good to do your homework before providing opinions.

    • Debtor’s argument that he has not had his day in court is discussed in Dkt. 312, at pages 17–19. Debtor had numerous chances to present his claims for an accounting in the New Jersey courts, but he engaged in tactics which resulted in adverse decisions and judgments against him in New Jersey, and in Montana. This Court declined to review Debtor’s adverse New Jersey divorce decisions under the Rooker–Feldman doctrine FN4, as discussed in Carmona v. Carmona, 603 F.3d 1041, 1050 (9th Cir.2010), Noel v. Hall, 341 F.3d 1148, 1155 (9th Cir.2003), and based upon the “domestic relations exception” to federal court diversity jurisdiction. Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 298, 307–08, 126 S.Ct. 1735, 1741, 1746, 164 L.Ed.2d 480 (2006), citing Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 112 S.Ct. 2206, 119 L.Ed.2d 468 (1992). After review of Debtor’s motion and this Court’s Memorandum, this Court finds that Debtor failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits to justify a stay pending appeal. The Debtor is not entitled to this Court’s review of, and interference with, the New Jersey divorce decisions.

  7. And your source is…pulling rumors out of the air? Being a right-winger who violates the law is not his ex-wife’s fault.

  8. Below is Jonas’s quote in the Valley Journal. Note where he says he has practiced day to day for 34 years….. the real facts are that he has been suspended from the practice of law in 3 states for 15- 20 years, unable to practice…..this is an example of his distortion of the truth. In reality, he is a fugitive. He was never a court appointed arbritrator and his career as a “certified trial attorney” was very short lived before he became a fugitive. The only certifiable thing about Jonas is that he is a certifiable liar. The facts are available in the public record for anyone who cares to do the research. Jonas writes the following: ( This guy is not only homeless, he is scary)

    Jonas is a former court-appointed arbitrator. He helped facilitate resolution of differences between parties in complex legal matters.

    “As a board certified trial attorney, I have written hundreds of trial motions, briefs and appellate briefs and served as an expert witness for legal malpractice cases, which entrusted to me the determination of appropriateness of legal representation,” Jonas said.

    He has represented clients and argued in appellate courts including the United States Court of Appeals.

    Asked why he wants the Justice of the Peace job, Jonas said with his significant legal experience, it’s his way of giving back to his community in his field of expertise and helping restore respect and trust in the legal system in all who come before the court.

    Jonas said he has a balanced view toward justice, can be fair and impartial and can exercise intellectual discipline to remain unbiased, unprejudiced and fair-minded in all matters of life, including his judicial experiences.

    “Experience of over 34 years for both parties and on various sides in legal matters has helped me hone my ability to remain objective and not jump to conclusions not supported by law and factual evidence, but carefully analyze evidence including testimony and reach conclusions supported by the facts and the law,” Jonas added.

    What sets Jonas apart from the other candidates, he said, is an excellent legal education from Rutgers School of Law, a top-100 law school, more than 34 years of active, day-to-day legal trial practice and board certification in 1988 and 1995 as a certified civil trial attorney and adjunct law professor.

  9. Anyone know where he lives?

  10. I worked with Dennis DeVries for many years and find him to be fair and honest and think he is the best candidate for this job. Maybe someone without all the legal babble would be the best person to choose for this position. Someone who will listen and weigh all the factors before making decisions seems like the right move to make in this election.

  11. He lives in Rollins.

  12. Seems he now lives in Flathead County.

  13. Someone should file a lawsuit against this guy.

    • Because if he is not a legal, valid candidate he should not be allowed to hold the seat and pass judgement on the members of another county. The law is the law.

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