Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Services Set for Retired Judge Sherman W. Smith Sr.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held Friday for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sherman W. Smith Sr., who died Oct. 3 at 81.
Smith, whose son Sherman W. Smith Jr. also served on the court, was appointed to the Superior Court in 1966 by then-Gov. Pat Brown. Brown had appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1963.
He presided over the Municipal Court’s Watts Riot Calendar in 1965, personally handling 298 cases.
Smith retired from the Superior Court in 1975.
He attended high school in Virginia and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force, during WW II. He earned his undergraduate degree at West Virginia State College and his law degree at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C.
At the time of his appointment to the bench he was in private law practice in Los Angeles. In 1975 he received the Dr. Marin Luther King Brotherhood Award from the Metropolitan YMCA.
His son was appointed to the Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979 and elected to the Superior Court in 1988. In 1983 he was the presiding judge of the Municipal Court.
The younger Smith retired in 1999 and went into private judging.
He said yesterday that his father had been the first judge in California to rule that the use of voter registration rolls for the selection of jurors was unconstitutional because it reduced the number of people of color on juries. While that ruling was overturned on appeal, the legal principle involved was embraced by the California and U.S. supreme courts in later cases, eventually resulting in the use of Department of Motor Vehicles records as an additional source of jury venires, Smith Jr. said.
The elder Smith also, while a juvenile court judge, developed along with the Los Angeles Unified School District a “School for Parents” of juvenile offenders, his son related. That concept has subsequently been codified into state law, the younger Smith explained.
He added that his father was the first to appoint black attorneys to represent indigent white criminal defendants.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. at Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 Crenshaw Blvd., in Los Angeles
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company