Justice Smith was born in Lakeland, Florida in 1927.
His father was Cuban. His mother was African American. He graduated from Temple University
in 1952 and from the University of Washington School of Law in 1955. He served as a law
clerk for Washington Supreme Court Justice Matthew W. Hill (1955); as a deputy prosecuting
attorney for King County (1956-60); and as a special assistant to United States Attorney
General Robert F. Kennedy (1960-64).
His career includes service as a judge of the Seattle Municipal
Court (1965-66) and as a judge of the King County Superior Court (1966-73). He was
associate dean and professor of law at the University of Washington and retired in 1983 as
professor emeritus. He was a news commentator for KOMO Radio and Television (1973-79) and
retired from the United States Marine Corps Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
(1986). He had prior service in the United States Army (1945-46).
Justice Smith has served in local, national, and international
organizations concerned with religion, law, health, children and families, human rights,
and cultural diversity. He was appointed by President William J. Clinton on June 5, 1999
to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom created by Congress in
1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act. He co-chairs with Justice Charles W.
Johnson the Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission. He served as moderator of the
National Consortium of Task Forces and Commissions on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts
until May 1, 1999. He chaired the American Bar Association Task Force on Minorities in the
Judiciary, Judicial Division, until 1997. His service awards include: 1988 Lawyer of the
Year Award, Seattle-King County Bar Association; Public Service Award, United States
Department of Justice Community Relations Service (1988); 1989 Volunteer of the Year
Award, American Cancer Society; 1989 Alpha Phi Alpha Distinguished Service Award; 1990
Edwin T. Pratt Award, Seattle Urban League; 1990 Distinguished Alumnus Award, University
of Washington School of Law; 1994 Kappa Alpha Psi Distinguished Judicial Service Award;
1995 African American Legislative Committee Distinguished Service Award; 1996 Silver Gavel
Award, Washington State Hispanic Bar Association; 1996 Hispanic Judge of the Year Award,
Hispanic National Bar Association; 1997 Outstanding Judge Award, King County (Washington)
Bar Association; and 1999 Don Kazama Human Relations Award, Japanese American Citizens
League, Seattle Chapter.
Justice Smith has been married since 1955 to Eleanor Jane Martinez.
They are the parents of four adult children.