Finding Greatness: Crystal Jones

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: Finding Greatness | School of Education and Behavioral Sciences | Pressroom

Macon, GA


This special edition of Finding Greatness marks the University System of Georgia’s “Ethics Awareness Week” by featuring MGA alumna Crystal Jones, recently appointed Macon-Bibb Municipal Court judge.

Full Name: Crystal Jones

Age: 45.

Hometown & Residence: Macon.

Job Title: Municipal Court Judge of Macon-Bibb County.

Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Public Service from what is now Middle Georgia State University (class of 2003) and Juris Doctor from Mercer University School of Law.

Describe your current career and how you got there.

“While attending what was then known as Macon State College, the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Public Service became available after I earned associate’s degree in psychology. I was excited about the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree without having to move to another city because I was already familiar with the campus and professors and knew that I would obtain a high quality education. Remaining at Macon State allowed me to participate in campus activities and organizations. I also worked in admissions with Margo Woodham and in Student Life with Lynn McCraney and Dr. Michael Stewart, and I participated in various areas of public service.

“During my senior year, I took the GRE and applied to UGA with the intent of pursuing a PhD in applied psychology. While taking the GRE, I saw there was a test called an LSAT. I asked the testing representative what it was for and she explained it was for law school. I recalled having observed a special assistant attorney general representing the Department of Family and Children Services, and I realized my bachelor’s degree could possibly be beneficial for practicing public service law. I signed up to take the LSAT, took it, and realized my scores must have been good when I started receiving free law school applications from several law schools. I applied to a few and ended up having to decide between law school an UGA’s PhD program. I decided to go to law school and eventually selected Mercer, where I received a full scholarship.

“While in law school I had the great fortune to clerk at what was then known as Adams, Jordan and Treadwell, now known as Adams, Jordan and Herrington. There I clerked with Virgil Adams, Jimmy Jordan, the Honorable Marc Treadwell, and Samuel Hart, Jr. After clerking with the firm for a year, where I learned practical legal skills related to civil litigation, I clerked for another law firm, Young, Thagard, Hoffman, Smith, Lawrence & Shenton in Valdosta. There I clerked primarily with Daniel Hoffman, James Thagard and Matthew Lawrence. I gained experience with civil defense litigation, workers compensation, contractual matters, and criminal defense matters. They offered me a job during my third year of law school and I enjoyed working for them for seven years. I also obtained my mediation certification during the summer after my third year of law school. As a result I have been a registered mediator in the state of Georgia since 2006.

“After returning to the central Georgia area, and having ended running a satellite office out of my home for the law firm in Valdosta, I put my mediation certification to work and conducted court-ordered mediations in the central Georgia area. In addition, I practiced law as a solo practitioner handling plaintiff’s personal injury claims, contracts, wills, and non-profit organizations.

“In 2014, an opening became available in Macon-Bibb County for an assistant county attorney. I saw it as an opportunity to practice public service law, which had been my motivation to attend law school, and applied. Judd Drake decided to take a chance on me. Almost immediately it felt as if I had always been doing county attorney work. It just clicked. Anything that didn’t click was so interesting and learning did not feel like work. Approximately a month later, I became the senior assistant county attorney. One of my first major professional highlights in the county attorney’s office was identifying an issue with Georgia’s gun law regarding public facilities. It lead to an interview and coverage by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Although the legislator who drafted the legislation disagreed with me, the attorney general agreed with my interpretation of the gun law, thereby resolving the matter. In addition, I served as interim county attorney from November 2018 to February 2019. On October 1, 2019, I was appointed the Municipal Court judge of Macon-Bibb County.”

How have your Middle Georgia State experiences benefited you in your career and personal life?

“Middle Georgia State provided me with the opportunity to be as active and to experience as much and as many things as I wanted. Those wide and varied experiences gave me a better understanding and appreciation of life, people, and the world in general. It is also the place that ignited my desire to be a public servant and I am eternally grateful because I don’t think I would have experienced that anywhere else. The education that I obtained was often better than that of my peers who attended larger schools and universities. Lastly, there are professors, co-workers, and friends I made at Middle Georgia State University that I am still close to because they are great people.

What advice do you have for students now studying at Middle Georgia State?

"Study, but be active in your community and participate in on campus activities, clubs, and organizations. Take the time to get to know people and make some true friends. Getting good grades is important, but it is just as important that you be a good person. Lastly, know that the education you receive from Middle Georgia State is only limited by the limits you place on it. If you make the effort, the education you receive from Middle Georgia State University can take you in directions you may have never considered or dreamed of.”