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The Honorable Charles Z. Smith

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Information about The Honorable Charles Z. Smith

Profile image of The Honorable Charles Z. Smith

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Appointee
Law Professor
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Chocolate
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Truth, Justice And Freedom.

Birthplace

Born:
2/23/1927
Birth Location:
Lakeland, Florida

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Appointee
Law Professor
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange
Favorite Food:
Chocolate
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Truth, Justice And Freedom.

Birthplace

Born:
2/23/1927
Birth Location:
Lakeland
See how The Honorable Charles Z. Smith is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Retired Justice of the Washington Supreme Court and prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice, Charles Zellender Smith was born on February 23, 1927, in Lakeland, Florida. Son of John R. Smith, Sr., a Cuban immigrant, and Eva Love Smith, he attended school in Franklin, North Carolina at age three, Washington Park School in Lakeland and Hungerford School in Maitland, Florida. Mentored by Dr. William H. Gray, Jr., President of Florida A&M College, he served as Gray’s administrative assistant. From 1945 to 1946, Smith served in the United States Army as a court reporter. He later joined the Gray family in Philadelphia attending Temple University, where he earned his B.S. degree in 1952. Smith then moved to Seattle, Washington, where he entered the University of Washington Law School. He was one of four minority students in a class of 120. He was the only African American or person of color in the graduating class. While in law school, Smith met Hawaii-born Eleanor Martinez, whom he married in 1955.

After graduating from law school, Smith served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Matthew W. Hill. From 1956 to 1960, he served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County. In 1961, Smith was recruited by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to join his staff. Smith’s assistance was sought by the Attorney General in investigating mismanagement of the Central States Teamsters Pension Fund. He led a team conducting grand juries around the country, culminating in indictment and successful prosecution of James R. Hoffa and five business men for mail fraud and wire fraud in the Northern District of Illinois in 1964.

In 1965, Smith returned to Seattle where he became the first African American or person of color to become a judge in the State of Washington, being appointed as Judge of the Seattle Municipal Court. In 1966, again as a “first,” he was appointed to the King County Superior Court and subsequently reelected unopposed until he left the court in 1973. Also, in 1973, Smith was appointed Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the University of Washington Law School where he served until his retirement in 1986. Later in 1973 Smith was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where he served in the Judge Advocate Division as a military judge until his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1986.

Smith served as President of the American Baptist Churches, USA in 1976 and 1977 and participated with the National Inter-religious Task Force on Soviet Jewry. He served as a delegate to Task Force follow-up conferences in Rome, Italy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Madrid, Spain.

On July 18, 1988, Smith became the first African American or person of color to serve on the Washington Supreme Court. He served three terms retiring in 2002. In 1999, he was appointed by President William J. Clinton to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, created by Congress to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience and belief abroad. In 2001, the Student Bar Association at the University of Washington Law School established the Charles Z. Smith Public Service Scholarship. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts in 2004 and was honored by Pioneer Human Services in Seattle with naming of one of its low cost housing properties as the Chares Z. Smith House.

Smith lived in Seattle, Washington with his wife, Eleanor Martinez. The couple had four adult children and six grandchildren.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Charles Z. Smith's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the race relations in Franklin, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his mother's formal education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his mother's move to Lakeland, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the origin of his father's name
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his father's education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his early musical interests
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his sisters' radio show on WLAK Radio in Lakeland, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls attending Robert Hungerford Normal and Industrial School in Eatonville, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers meeting William H. Gray, Jr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his decision to study law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his academic accomplishments
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers enlisting in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his discharge from the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about why he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his study of group dynamics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers applying for law school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his admittance to the University of Washington School of Law
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences in Olympia, Washington
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls meeting his wife, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls meeting his wife, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his position as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County, Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Washington's criminal justice system
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers prosecuting drug related cases
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with racial discrimination
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls being recruited by Robert F. Kennedy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Dave Beck and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the feud between Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the reasoning behind Jimmy Hoffa's pardon
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls the Jimmy Hoffa case he tried in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the tensions between J. Edgar Hoover and Robert F. Kennedy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers J. Edgar Hoover
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his appointment to the Municipal Court of Seattle
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his role in decriminalizing public intoxication, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his role in decriminalizing public intoxication, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his appointment to the King County Superior Court
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers a murder case he presided over in the King County Superior Court, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers a murder case he presided over in the King County Superior Court, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the sentencing criteria in the State of Washington
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his cases while serving on the King County Superior Court
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Seattle's discriminatory housing practices, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Seattle's discriminatory housing practices, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his further judicial studies and education
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his judicial appointment in the U.S. Marine Corps
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers one of his U.S. Marine Corps cases
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the differences between civilian and military courts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his teaching schedule at the University of Washington School of Law
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the University District Defender Services clinical program
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his work as a commentator on KOMO Radio and KOMO-TV
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his television segments on KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his work on the Juvenile Justice Standards Commission
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the enforcement of constitutional rights for juveniles
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the juvenile courts in the State of Washington
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls one of his juvenile court cases
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith shares his stance on incarceration
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about Gary Ridgway's trial
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers one of his King County Superior Court cases
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the American Baptist Churches USA
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the memberships of Baptist churches in Seattle, Washington
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his involvement with various Washington task forces
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers his appointment to the Washington Supreme Court
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls his tenure on the Washington Supreme Court
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with discrimination in the Washington Supreme Court, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes his experiences with discrimination in the Washington Supreme Court, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his colleagues at the Washington Supreme Court
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith remembers the executive committee of the Washington Supreme Court
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his status in the Washington Supreme Court
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the civil rights leaders in Seattle, Washington
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith recalls the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference protests
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his judicial career
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about the importance of community programs
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith talks about his family
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Z. Smith describes how he would like to be remembered