Saturday, September 15, 2012

          Charles Smiley '97: Community Connections

          During one law school summer, Charles Smiley ’97 interned for the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, where, he says, "he fell in love with trial work.”

          Then, during his third year, Smiley served as an extern for a federal magistrate. “Seeing how professional and dignified she was, I thought, ‘I wish I could be at a level to do this someday.’ That experience opened me up to the possibility of working as a judge.”

          Smiley soon changed his voter status to undeclared, signaling that joining the judiciary wasn’t simply a pipe dream. “It was evidence that becoming a judge someday was more of a plan than I wanted to admit,” he says. “I thought it was important to be neutral.”

          After graduating from UC Hastings, Smiley became an Alameda County deputy public defender, a job that offered “immediate feedback on how the justice system is perceived,” he says. “Sometimes clients left feeling they’d had a fair shake, and other times they felt the system wasn’t working, even if they’d won the case. I learned that people expect a lot from the branch.”

          As a defense attorney, Smiley studied judging styles. This proved useful when, in 2007, he was appointed a court commissioner, handling traffic, family, civil harassment matters, and small claims. That experience prepared him for his current job, managing felony preliminary hearings and misdemeanor jury trials as a judge on the Alameda County Superior Court.

          “I love the job,” Smiley says.” “I get to work with talented lawyers on serious issues that affect people’s lives.”

          When Smiley is not on the bench, the former songwriter and collegiate rower spends time with his wife and four-year-old daughter. He’s a film and history buff with a particular interest in the history of African American lawyers and judges. President-elect of the Earl Warren Inn of Court, Smiley also speaks at bar associations and nonprofits, and has taught trial advocacy at UC Hastings.

          Smiley attributes his achievements in part to “very good professors who taught me a new way of thinking about how decisions get made. I left UC Hastings with the tools I needed to be successful.”

          [ADVICE CORNER]

          What advice do you have for judicial candidates who want to deepen their ties to the community?

          Be involved. As a public defender, I worked on fixing problems. I soon wondered, “How can I get in front of this?” I began volunteering for youth programs. Be connected to the community you are serving.

          Go to News Archive

          Share this Story

          Share via Facebook
          Share via TwitterShare via EmailPrint Friendly Version

          Other Recent Stories/ RSS

          Friday, July 21, 2017

          Rising 2L “nerding out” this summer at the California Energy Commission

          “You can call me ‘M,’” says Monika Darwish, the wannabe spy turned law student who cannot wait to roll up her sleeves and develop legal skills to help save the planet.
          Friday, July 14, 2017

          Silicon Valley Star: Jonathan Runyan '06 is Helping Startups Succeed

          After representing hundreds of tech firms and venture funds, Runyan decided to join one.
          Friday, July 07, 2017

          When Irish Eyes are Advocating: Rising 3L interns at the Adoption Authority of Ireland

          Gracie Wright assists with inter-country adoptions, researches 'mother and baby home,' and learns to balance the emotional and legal aspects of people searching for their families.
          Thursday, July 06, 2017

          Annual Research Roundup - 2016

          Message from Professor Scott Dodson, Associate Dean for Research, Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair
          Wednesday, July 05, 2017

          Thinkers & Doers: June 2017

          Sherlock Holmes Syndrome -- Clara Foltz lounge is the new (temporary) KQED TV studio -- Professor Joan C. Williams on a talk radio tour -- Why Do We Work for Justice? -- Politico says Trump Hearings Launch Kamala Harris -- #SummerOfLaw -- Was alum a potential running mate for President John F. Kennedy? -- and much more
          Go to News Archive