(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Lisa Willardson, a former Clark County prosecutor who is a central figure in the ethics case involving Family Court Judge Steven Jones, is dead.
The Coroner’s Office says the body of the 45 year old Willardson was found in the bathroom of her Henderson home around 6:40 Thursday evening. KXNT has learned from Jones’ attorney Jim Jimmerson that it was Jones who found Willardson’s body.Jimmerson said the judge had returned with his children from a holiday trip and went to Willardson’s residence. Jimmerson says Jones reported that there was no evidence of foul play or apparent suicide and that the judge called 9-1-1.
Hours earlier, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline ruled the judge committed numerous violations of judicial rules pertaining to his relationship with Willardson. He was accused of failing to recuse himself from hearing cases in which Willardson appeared before him representing the D.A.’s office. The two were allegedly in a relationship at the time–from October through December of 2011. Jones has denied the charges.
Willardson was later fired from her job with the prosecutor’s office.
In a Disciplinary Commission hearing weeks ago, former prosecutors detailed the Jones-Willardson relationship including a photo taken from under the table at a party in which the Judge’s hand appeared to be on Willardson’s leg.
Jones, who faces separate proceedings in an unrelated criminal case, has been collecting his judicial salary but not hearing cases during the Disciplinary Commission proceedings. As part of its ruling Thursday, the Commission said a public hearing would be held in late January to determine penalties and punishment for Jones’ behavior, which could include suspension or removal from the bench.
Recent Twitter posts by Lisa Willardson show her in good spirits. On Christmas day she tweeted, “So looking forward to the 2014. It’s going to be the best year…#happiness #can’twait”
On December 21, she tweeted, “While I never anticipated falling in love would cause so much pain (and love) I wouldn’t change a thing. #love #Steve
The coroner’s office did not release details on the manner or circumstances of Willardson’s death, pending further investigation.