Justin T. Smith
Here’s the fire that was lit inside me during my very first course in Law and Justice as an undergraduate: The Constitutional rights that protect me as a citizen only work if they are vigorously enforced to protect everyone – especially for people accused of the most serious crimes. And that fire burns as brightly as ever.
INVESTIGATIONS AND THE RULE OF LAW
I instinctively got it that “the rule of law” is much more than a simple phrase that describes our American justice system; it’s the reason that prosecutors and law enforcement agents (whether local, state or federal) are required to follow the law when accusing a citizen of a crime at any level. My job — what I’m passionate about — is making sure they do.
After getting my BA in Criminal Justice, I went straight into criminal defense investigative work to learn how local police departments and federal agencies such as the FBI and DEA decide who to target and why, and how they go about building their cases. Over the course of eight years, I worked for both a Federal Defender’s office (in Washington state) and Connecticut’s Office of the Chief Public Defender.
I learned the mechanics of defending a criminal defense case and honed my experience in the areas of forensics, DNA, fingerprints, crime scene investigation, evidence tampering, witness interviews and much more.
While at the Federal Defender’s office, I was profoundly fortunate to learn from one of the very best criminal defense lawyers in the country, Judy Clarke. Attorney Clark defended Susan Smith (accused of drowning her 2 children), and Ted Kaczynski (the “Unabomber”). She went on to defend, among other high-profile cases, Jared Lee Loughner (who shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords) and most recently Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev (one of the “Boston Bombers”).
FROM INVESTIGATOR TO CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Attorney Clarke inspired me to take the next logical step in my career and get my law degree. Because of my previous experience as an investigator in an adjacent Federal Defender’s Office, I was able to secure an internship in my second year of law school with the Seattle Federal Public Defenders Office — where I assisted attorneys with legal research and motions practice both before and during the terrorism trial of Ahmed Ressam (who was arrested at the U.S./Canadian border trying to bring bomb making materials into the country intended for targets in Los Angeles).
After law school, I moved to Connecticut to begin my career as a criminal defense attorney. My very first criminal trial was a murder case. And in the last 14 years, I have represented many hundreds of clients and have tried several state and federal cases to verdict, including a federal death penalty case. Each time I stand before the court to defend my clients, I feel the pride and honor of defending those who desperately need experienced and strong representation. No matter who you are, no matter how serious the charges, and no matter how much it seems your situation is hopeless, I am here to defend you with all of my might. You deserve nothing less.
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