COLUMBIA — An Aiken County attorney convicted of 11 misdemeanors and disbarred by two states isn’t giving up on practicing law. Georgia and South Carolina, however, still say no.
In June the Georgia Supreme Court disbarred Sidney Jones of Graniteville, and on Wednesday the South Carolina Supreme Court did, as well.
Jones had been convicted in 2011, suspended from practicing law and given 11 years of probation. According to authorities he had smuggled contraband to a client in the Richmond County jail.
When contacted by a reporter Wednesday, Jones said he had made a mistake by pleading guilty to the misdemeanors, because he did not know he would be disbarred.
This was the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life,” he said, “but the punishment should fit the crime.”
Jones filed a motion to reconsider with the Georgia Supreme Court in June, asking for a lesser punishment. It was denied.
A special master had recommended that Jones be suspended for six months rather than disbarred.
On Thursday, he said he plans to petition the court again, this time alleging that a deputy had made false statements. Jones also said his client had tricked him.
Cigarettes and other items were commonly slipped into the Richmond County jail, Jones said.
“The jail administration knew it because you could see the smoke,” he said.
“My client told me he could get anything. He had a cell phone. How did he get that?”
Jones said his client set him up for a sting in exchange for a reduced sentence. Jones also denied that he had ever brought in marijuana, although court records say he smuggled a package in once without knowing its contents.
“No marijuana at all,” Jones insisted this week. “That was a complete fabrication. They used that as leverage.”
In its June disbarment order, the Georgia Supreme Court said Jones’ smuggling was “apparently motivated by a misguided sense of sympathy for his client ... .”
The Augusta Chronicle reported a more complicated scenario involving Jones’ son.
Shortly after his disbarment in Georgia, the newspaper reported that Jones’ client had told authorities that Jones offered to represent him for free and give him tobacco every week, if he’d change statements he had made about Tyler Jones.
At the time, the younger Jones was awaiting trial in Aiken County for armed robbery. He was later convicted and is serving a 22-year sentence.
The client also told investigators that Sidney Jones had him sign three false affidavits aimed at helping his son avoid the charges. The affidavits were never introduced in court.
Ultimately, Jones pleaded guilty to 10 counts of crossing guard lines with contraband and one count of disorderly conduct for preparing an affidavit for his client to sign.
“They made me look like a bad person,” Jones said. “I didn’t go back to law school until I was 50 years old. I had this vision of making a difference to help.”