Jessica Griffin, a top-notch attorney, quickly earned the respect of Oakdale residents. An intelligent woman, Jessica fought for her clients. Jessica's world revolved around work and except for a few dalliances, she had little time for romance. Jessica was first seen working as a Deputy District Attorney, prosecuting Kim Hughes for the murder of Doug Cummings. At the time, Jessica began a relationship with Oakdale police Lt. Roy Franklin, which put a crimp into the previous relationship between Franklin and Heather Dalton, who was not in town as much because of her singing career. After her relationship with Franklin ended, Jessica found love with the dashing Scotsman Duncan McKechnie. Friends for years, Jessica was there for Duncan when his wife, Shannon, died. Soon, that friendship blossomed into love and the two made plans to marry. Unfortunately, neither family was happy about the interracial match. Jessica's mother threatened to disown her and Duncan's daughter told him she couldn't approve. Despite disapproval from family and some friends, the pair went along with their plans and married. Not long after, they had a daughter, Bonnie Louise. Jessica and Duncan remained happily married until the sudden reappearance of Duncan's former wife, Shannon. Apparently Shannon didn't die, but was lost and suffering from amnesia. Though Duncan tried to stay loyal to Jessica, it became clear that he was still in love with Shannon and the pair divorced amicably.
Over the next several years, Jessica acted as little more than the resident lawyer, representing, among others, Denise Maynard. She was also blackmailed by white supremacists in 1996, when they threatened the lives of her sister and her sister's children if she didn't do as they asked. In 1997, Jessica dated Ben Harris for a few months, and was friendly with him afterwards. When she found out his current girlfriend, Camille, had slept with Lew McCloud, she immediately told Ben. In 1999, Jess was appointed District Attorney and found herself prosecuting longtime friend Margo Hughes for the murder of Alec Wallace. On Valentine's Day 2000, Jessica sang with other lonely Oakdale women in Java Underground. In the summer of 2001, she prosecuted Craig Montgomery for the attempted murder of Barbara Ryan.
In fall 2001, a now-grown Bonnie fled to Oakdale after years of living with Duncan, and in boarding and finishing schools. Mother and daughter had been estranged, with Bonnie claiming that Jessica cared more about her career than parenthood. Bonnie had grown up to be an elitist, rude snob, so Duncan agreed to let Jessica teach her responsibility and the value of a dollar. After a disastrous first day at Fashions, Jessica got Bonnie a job at Java Underground. While spending time there, she renewed her friendship with Ben Harris and began seeing him romantically again.
Jessica's romance with Ben came under strain with the arrival Barbara Ryan's and James Stenbeck's hot-shot attorney, Marshall Travers. Though she hated Marshall for his courtroom antics and political ploys, she nonetheless found herself attracted to him and the two had an affair. At this time, Jessica and Marshall were both campaigning for District Attorney and when she learned that Bonnie and Paul Ryan bugged Marshall's room, Jessica conceded the election. Paul, who was certain that Marshall knew the whereabouts of his criminal father, blackmailed Jessica about the affair hoping she'd learn where James was hiding. However, Ben found out about the affair by Marshall himself and left Jessica. Though Marshall dropped all charges against James and later put Paul on trial for Brandy's murder, an attack of conscience forced him to admit that James's was the true murderer and that he was blackmailing Marshall by withholding the whereabouts of his teenage daughter. In retaliation, James shot Marshall in the head. Though he was saved by Ben, the operation didn't go smoothly and Ben almost killed Marshall by accidentally nicking an artery. Though Jess came to Ben's defense, she made a deal with Marshall to help find his daughter if he dropped the lawsuit against Ben. Jessica agreed although it was learned that Marshall's daughter, Zara, had died in Brazil.
Knowing that Marshall faced jail time for aiding James Stenbeck, Jessica offered to let him be released in her custody until trial. Unfortunately, Jessica would regret that decision when one night Marshall forced himself on her. Though the next day, he claimed that it was consensual, it was clear that a distraught Jessica disagreed and she filed charges against him. Although an unrepentant Marshall pleaded with her to drop the case and threatened to use an old videotape of them making love to embarrass her, Jess refused to back down and went on with the charges. Realizing that Marshall truly did not see what he'd done to her, Jess cornered him in court and forced him to finally see that he had indeed raped her. Marshall's acknowledgment of guilt was enough to vindicate Jess, and knowing that he did not intentionally mean to do it, she dropped the charges. Later, a series of events would force Jessica to change her mind. Enraged that Marshall got off for raping her mother, Bonnie, in a fit of anger, tried to shoot him but Jessica stepped in front and was shot instead! To everyone's surprise, Marshall kept quiet about the reason for the shooting and Bonnie was given a light sentence of community service.
It was while working at a children's shelter that Bonnie would meet a young teenage girl who would change her life--Sarah Smith. Instantly bonding with the girl, soon she became obsessed and to Jessica's disapproval, she made plans to adopt Sarah, a girl she barely knew. Concerned about Bonnie's obsession over Sarah, Jessica was later shocked when Bonnie revealed what she'd learned--Sarah was Marshall's presumed dead daughter, Zara! Believing that Marshall had a right to know, Jess went against Bonnie and told him the truth. She also warned Bonnie to stay away from Sarah in order to avoid Marshall getting angry and going to the police about the shooting. To Jessica’s consternation, Bonnie continued to obsess about being with Sarah and began getting close to Marshall. Wanting Marshall out of her daughter's life, Jessica warned him to leave town or she would reopen the rape case. Fearful of getting prosecuted, Marshall agreed to flee with Sarah, but was stopped by Bonnie. Unfortunately, Bonnie struggled with Marshall and in the melee he was pushed out the window, falling to his death. Feeling guilty, Bonnie resolved to take responsibility for her actions and pled guilty to manslaughter. Although Jessica tried to talk her out of it, Bonnie was firm and was sentenced to six months in a minimum security prison. Soon after, Ben and Jessica eloped.
Feeling guilty about her own role in Marshall's death, Jessica decided to take Sarah into her home as a foster child. Knowing Jessica was only offering because she felt guilty for her role in Marshall's death and Bonnie's imprisonment, Sarah resented Jess. Deeply missing Bonnie, Sarah asked Jessica to take letters to Bonnie in prison. Although Jessica tried to explain that Bonnie was forbidden any contact with Sarah, and breaking the rules could have serious consequences for both her and Bonnie, Sarah pleaded with Jessica to take the letters anyway. Not wanting to get Bonnie into more trouble, yet still wanting to make Sarah feel better, Jess hid Sarah's letters yet told her that she'd given them to Bonnie. Though Ben warned her that lying would blow up in her face, Jess was convinced that deceiving Sarah was the best thing. It seemed to work since Sarah was so elated that Jessica was helping her "talk" to Bonnie that she started opening herself up. Unfortunately, Jess's lies would blow up in her face when Sarah finally learned that she'd been lied to. Hurt and angry, Sarah schemed to get back at Jessica by sneaking the letter's in Jess's bag, so Jess would be caught with them on her next visit to Bonnie. Although Sarah's friend Casey Hughes tried to warn her that she'd only hurt herself by getting Jess into trouble, she didn't care and went ahead with the plan anyway. As Casey predicted, Jessica was caught with the letters and disbarred. When confronted, Sarah finally lashed out at Jess and told her that she knew she'd been lied to and accused Jess of only being nice to her out of guilt. Although she expected to be sent back to the Children's Shelter, Sarah was shocked when instead Jessica forgave her and gave her a second chance. Not long after, Bonnie was finally released from prison and announced that she was moving to Florida. To Sarah's delight, she asked her to come with her and be part of a family. Although sorry to see Sarah go, Jessica realized that Sarah and Bonnie shared a special bond.
Being with Sarah reacquainted something in Jess and told Ben that she wanted to have a child with him. Unfortunately, Jess would learn that it may not be that easy. Informed that she was in the very early stages of menopause, Jess was told that while she could still get pregnant, she only had a small window of time in which to do it. In addition to the stress of trying to have a baby, Jessica also became worried about Margo who was becoming extremely infatuated with newcomer, former football star Doc Reese. Making it difficult for Margo though was Reese himself who enjoyed flirting with her shamelessly even though he knew she was married. Continually exasperated by Doc's shameless pursuit of Margo, Jessica was also put off by his arrogant personality and irresponsible behavior. However, despite Jessica's warnings, Margo continued to find herself drawn to Reese. Finally, after weeks of intervening between Doc and Margo in an attempt to keep Margo from destroying her marriage, an annoyed Jessica confronted Reese about his behavior. Immediately put on the defensive, Reese argued with Jess, who unexpectedly broke down. Distraught, Jessica let herself be comforted by Reese and suddenly they fell into bed together! Afterwards, Jessica immediately regretted what happened and made plans to leave when suddenly Margo arrived! Scared of getting found out, Jess hid in the bathroom while Doc hurried to get Margo out of there. Although Jessica and Doc swore to never reveal what happened, things got very complicated days later when Tom suddenly accused Margo of having an affair with Doc!
Although Jess tried to convince Tom that there was no affair, her pleas fell on deaf ears. Though she did finally convince Tom that Margo wasn't the one who had an affair, her choice of words led Tom to the truth--that Jessica did! To Jess's relief, Tom agreed to keep quiet though it was obvious he did not approve of what she'd done. Meanwhile, Jess was elated to learn that she was pregnant, until she realized that Doc could well be the father. It didn't take Doc long to figure it out himself, but he agreed to keep quiet and made no claim on the child. In the meantime, Jess tried to keep her indiscretion a secret from both Margo and Ben. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t be successful. When Margo figured out that Jess was having meetings with Doc, she figured out the truth and ended their friendship. The stress of her situation caused Jess to miscarry and soon after, as a result of genetic testing conducted to see if anything was wrong with the child, Ben learned he wasn't the father. Confronted by Ben, Jess was finally forced to admit her indiscretion. Disgusted, Ben initiated divorce proceedings, despite Jessica's pleas for him to forgive her. However, Jessica was persistent and when it appeared as if Ben was becoming addicted to pain killers, she tried to help him. When Ben's addiction was discovered and he was accused of botching up an operation, Jessica defended him and Ben slowly started to forgive her indiscretion.
Since then, Jessica settled in for a nice quiet life. Apparently she is still practicing law since when a newly divorced Bonnie returned, in 2007, she began working at her mother's law firm. It is also possible that she and Ben divorced since, as of 2009, he was living in Philadelphia.
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