Michael Boxley and E. Stewart Jones are lawyers, but not partners. Boxley is an accused rapist and confessed sexual offender and Jones is his high-paid attorney. They’ve been in the news a lot over the past year, in the New York Capital Region, and their conduct can only further blemish the reputation of the legal profession.
Jones & Boxley at sentencing
Boxley, who is now 44 years old, was the top legal counsel in the New Yok State Assembly (working for Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver), at the time of the alleged rape of a 22-year-old legislative aide, who worked for another Assembly member. According to Newsday.com,
“Similar allegations were made against Boxley in 2001 by another woman who worked for the Assembly. She said Boxley sexually assaulted her at his apartment after a night of drinking. Criminal charges were never filed. After an internal investigation within the Assembly, the woman and Boxley reached an agreement without sanctions against Boxley.”
The current story first became public last year, when the victim requested a sexual harassment invesitgation in the Assembly. Speaker Silver released a statement saying “I have the utmost confidence in Michael Boxley. He is man of integrity and of the highest character and I am certain when all the facts are known Michael Boxley will completely exonerated.” Lawyer Jones was a little less reserved, he asserted:
“She is alleging impropriety. Any impropriety is in her mind. Didn’t happen, never occurred. It’s an outrageous boldface lie if she is suggesting there is any misconduct on Michael Boxley’s behalf.”
Subsequently, a grand jury indicted Boxley, claiming he had sexual intercourse with the woman when she was physically helpless in her apartment. On the day last August, when Boxley pled not guilty to the rape charges, Attorney Jones “lashed out at Boxley’s accuser,” saying:
“These are the fantastic imaginations of a woman who is motivated by reasons that we don’t understand at this point in time. She’s lying to herself and those lies have led to lies to the police, the prosecutor and the grand jury. And that’s the reason we’re here,”
When Boxley decided nonetheless to plea to a far-lesser misdemeanor charge of sexual misconduct, he admitted having had nonconsensual sex with the victim. His mouthpiece Jones announced that Boxley only took the plea to avoid losing his license to practice law – then, however, Jones made the outrageous statement, repeated in subsequent interviews, that Boxley was innocent and only pleaded guilty to avoid trial by an all-white jury. Jones explained in television interviews that he did not believe Boxley, a black man, could get a fair trial in Albany — despite having the area’s preeminent criminal defense attorney!
As if all this weren’t tawdry enough, things got more heated this week, when Boxley was finally sentenced to six years probation and a $1,000 fine, and listing on the state’s sexual offender registry. The victim, who had previously stated she agreed with the plea bargain, made an angry and tearful statement to the court, saying “This is a first-degree rape case, not a misdemeanor,”
The victim said she thinks the deal was struck because of Boxley’s power. “I am disgusted by the mismanagement of my case and the strings that were pulled to allow a rich rapist free range of our community,” she said.
In response, Jones said the statement at sentencing was an “exercise in self-delusion.” And, defended the district attorney’s office, saying that the victim’s charges that the case was mishandled were “unfair, inaccurate and unjust,” Then, Jones got really ugly, declaring in front of an array of tv cameras:
“She is not a naive, innocent, fragile girl.”
”She is engaged in self denial about a lifestyle that brought all this together, and that is why we are here.”
“This young lady is a hard-partying, hard-drinking, marijuana-using, socially experienced, socially active, uninhibited poster girl for the wild side of Albany night life.”
When asked if there might be a civil suit, Jones replied, “I think she may be lawyered-up.”
Jones’ implication that the victim brought the crime on herself is totally inappropriate, and has caused more heat. As the Times Union reported today (“Victim details night’s ordeal,” by Michelle Morgan Bolton, Feb. 26, 2004, available free for 7 days), the National Organization for Women’s Albany chapter called for Jones, to apologize to all women for remarks he made outside the courtroom following the sentencing. The article continues:
Jones hit a nerve by characterizing the woman as a “hard-partying, hard-drinking … uninhibited poster girl for the wild side of Albany nightlife.”
“E. Stewart Jones … has made an appalling statement in the Michael Boxley case, blaming the victim and her social life for her circumstances as a victim of sexual assault,” [NOW leaders] said.
“In today’s society, a statement such as this is preposterous,” they said. “Attitudes such as these encourage the notion that violence against women is warranted based on that woman’s social life. Despite the defendant’s mild sentence, the use of the term ‘poster girl’ in referring to a crime victim is atrocious.”
“They were not in the courtroom,” Jones responded later. “They didn’t hear what she said. Everything I said is supported by proof. She misled everyone about herself.” There will be no back-pedaling, Jones said: “No apology is forthcoming. No apology is required. No apology is justified.”
“My statement was very specific to this case and the remarks she made in the courtroom,” he went on. “It has absolutely nothing to do with any other women. … If she hadn’t said what she said, I wouldn’t have opened my mouth.”
Last year, I complained about “criminal defense lawyers spouting sound bites on courthouse steps, the content of which often strains credulity, blames victims, and has very little to do with the important role of making the government prove its case.” I believe E. Stewart Jones is a Poster Person for just that sort of conduct. It makes lawyers look bad. Very bad.
As his website correctly proclaims, Jones is highly prominent, and highly sought-after for both criminal defense work and plaintiff’s personal injury cases (emphasis added):
One of the few attorneys in the entire country that is board certified as both a Civil Trial Advocate and Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Mr. Jones is also a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
With credentials such as these, you are assured of the highest caliber of legal counsel available today.
I’d appreciate hearing what my visitors think about this story.
It goes without saying, that I hope NYS bar counsel won’t let Mr. Boxley’s “mere” misdemeanor violation keep them from imposing appropriate discipline for conduct most inappropriate for members of the bar (and the human race).
I also hope that local media, especially tv, will stop giving defense counsel such as Jones so much coverage. Neither defensive boilerplate nor offensive balderdash is news.
the State pay his legal fees in a suit by a former Assembly staffer,
(March 4, 2005):
Supreme Court Justice James Canfield ruled against Boxley,
saying “there is no question but that the criminal activity
that petitioner has either already admitted or is accused of
constitutes a substantial departure from the duties of
So far, no comment from the usually chatty counsel for Boxley.