Class: 1966Inducted: 2003
The swearing in of Thomas S. Smith, Jr. as a Superior Court Judge on January 27, 1997 marked the culmination of a 24-year career in public service - all with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender.
The youngest attorney in the Office of the Public Defender to be appointed to the top level Assistant Public Defender and First Assistant Public Defender Positions, Smith had just turned 37 when he was initially tabbed in May 1985 to replace Joseph Rodriguez as Acting Public Defender. He served again briefly as Acting Public Defender as well as Acting Public Advocate following the resignation of Alfred Slocum on January 16, 1990.
A native of Asbury Park, Smith is the son of retired Chief of Police, the late Thomas S. Smith, Sr. Thomas Smith was a three letter man in high school and won an athletic scholarship to Syracuse University where he lettered in football and track and field. He was instrumental in establishing a student tutorial program for local inner-city youngsters which helped them to improve their reading skills.
Thomas Smith, Jr. earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse in 1970 and three years later gained his law degree from the Rutgers School of Law in Newark. While at Rutgers, he helped establish a student run legal aid program for Newark's citizens and began his association with the Office of the Public Defender, working on juvenile court matters. In 1973, he was admitted to both the New Jersey and U.S. District Court Bars. He is also a member of the Bars of both the U.S. Supreme Court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Honorable Thomas S. Smith, Jr. has been the recipient of a number of awards and a member of both 1989 Leadership New Jersey Class and the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Law Journal. He resides in Neptune with his wife, the former Dianne Gibson, and their three children, Kori, Keir, and Kaprece.
Personal quotation: "Always be prepared to answer the door when opportunity knocks."