Steve Smith on Monday officially announced his decision to enter the race for Hamilton County District public defender. Mr. Smith is running for the Republican nomination in the May 6 primary to ultimately face the Democratic incumbent in the 2014 general election.
Ardena Garth is the incumbent.
"It's been a privilege to serve our citizens in the criminal justice system for over a decade, both as retained defense counsel and as assistant district attorney in the Hamilton County District Attorney's office," said Mr. Smith. "My experience, coupled with an unflinching commitment to effectiveness and efficiency, qualify me to serve as your next public defender, and I humbly ask for your vote."
Since 2006, Mr. Smith has served as assistant district attorney general for Hamilton County, managing various felony and misdemeanor cases before the General Sessions Court, the grand jury, and the county Criminal Courts. Mr. Smith is licensed to practice law in the state courts of Tennessee and before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee where he has represented and advised clients in both civil and criminal cases.
Mr. Smith's extensive experience working with the criminally accused, victims, witnesses, and law enforcement officials has impressed on him the critical need for a properly functioning criminal justice system. Particularly, Smith calls for a return to a focus on protections afforded to all in the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions.
"The framers of our constitution did not leave the public's legal protections to chance," said Mr. Smith. "The Sixth Amendment guarantee of a speedy and fair trial for all, as well as the assistance of counsel, are rights I am dedicated to protect."
Mr. Smith graduated from Cecil C. Humpreys School of Law at the University of Memphis with a Juris Doctor degree in 2001. He later became an adjunct professor of legal studies at Bryan College where he continues to teach. Before attending law school, Mr. Smith worked as a professional geologist with the General Physics Corporation at the Arnold Engineering Development Center after receiving a Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also an alumnus of Red Bank High School.
Mr. Smith currently serves as a board member of the Administrative Council for the Signal Mountain United Methodist Church and previously served on the Board for Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga.
Mr. Smith, 40, and his wife, Mary, have been married for 17 years and live on Signal Mountain with their four children: Emma, Clara, Willa, and Duncan.
Early voting for Hamilton County District Public Defender runs from April 16 to May 1, leading up to the county primary election on Tuesday, May 6. The general election is Thursday, Aug. 7.