UCHastings Instagram

Done with class for the week. #KillingIt #uchastings #1L #Section2
Instagram Photo Likes neceyh, lizziebing, ella_immanuela and 21 others like this.
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, September 19, 2014

Thinkers & Doers: Sept 19, 2014

UC Hastings community news September 11-19, 2014.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

UC Hastings Presents Gordon Mathis Riley Environmental Law Lecture

Environmental leader William K. Reilly of TPG Capital will give the second annual lecture on Sept. 24 in Mary Kay Kane Hall.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Feldman on Tug of War between Supreme Court & Federal Circuit

Coming of Age for the Federal Circuit
Monday, September 15, 2014

Spotlight on 2L Sarah Barr

Barr handled “more cases, of greater complexity, than I could have expected of any law student,” says Deputy Attorney General Dorian C. Jung.
Saturday, September 13, 2014

Startup Legal Garage Client Receives First TechCrunch "Include" Grant

Black Girls Code promotes participation of women of color in the tech sector.
Go to News Archive