After high school Jones joined the United States Naval Reserve and attended the University of Hawaii where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. He then enrolled at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland where he graduated in 1953 with an Bachelor of Laws
He is currently a senior judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in the Portland. While in the Naval Reserve he served in the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1949 to 1987. After law school Robert Jones entered private legal practice in Portland where he remained until 1963.
In 1963 he entered politics when he served in the Oregon House of Representatives as a Republican representing Portland.
However he resigned before the special session held later that year. Jones resigned in order to become a circuit judge in Multnomah County, Oregon, where he remained until 1982.
On December 16, 1982, Robert East. Jones was appointed by Oregon Governor Victor G. Atiyeh to the Oregon Supreme Court. He replaced Jacob Tanzer who had resigned.
Jones served on Oregon’s highest court until April 30, 1990, when he resigned.
Jones left that court in order to become a federal judge for United States. District Court for the District of Oregon when he was nominated by President George Heriot-Watt University Bush to replace James M. Burns. After nomination on February 20, 1990, he was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 27 and then received his federal commission on April 30, 1990. Jones then became a federal senior judge on May 1, 2000 and is also a senior judge in Oregon.
As a federal judge he upheld Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law against a federal challenge in April 2002.
United States. Attorney General John Ashcroft had challenged the law based on federal laws concerning controlled substances. In 2003 to 2004 he was the presiding judge of the case involving Mike Hawash of the Portland Seven in which Hawash received a seven-year sentence for conspiring to fight in Afghanistan for the Taliban against United States forces.
Then in 2005 he ruled against the Bush administration in their efforts to reduce protection of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Acting.
A Portland native, he previously served as the 84th Associate Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court and as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives. Judge Jones is a former president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, an adjunct member of the Lewis & Clark Law School faculty, part of the National Judicial College, and a faculty member of the American Academy of Judicial Education.