Mr. Smith is a 1976 graduate of the Yale Law School. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, and was a graduate student at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1970 to 1972.
For eight years prior to entering private practice, Mr. Smith was a prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice and at the United States Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia. At Justice, he served in the Appellate and Narcotics Sections of the Criminal Division, and as the first Deputy Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Office where he was responsible for supervising all forfeiture litigation in the United States. At the United States Attorney's Office, he was involved in several complex white collar criminal investigations, trials, and appeals involving defense procurement fraud, false claims, congressional bribery, mail fraud, tax evasion, theft of government property, espionage, false statements, and perjury. His government experience was broadly varied. In 1995-1996, he served as a part-time Associate Independent Counsel in the investigation of Michael Espy, the former Secretary of Agriculture.
In 1986, Mr. Smith began private practice. He recently formed a partnership with Jeffrey D. Zimmerman, a old colleague in the criminal defense bar. With Mr. Smith's extensive background in forfeiture law, he participates in civil and criminal forfeiture cases all over the country and consults extensively with other lawyers in this area of law. He is a frequent lecturer on forfeiture practice before national and state bar associations.
Mr. Smith's practice includes federal criminal defense and criminal appeals. He has argued more than one hundred federal criminal appeals as a prosecutor and defense attorney, many of which were significant cases. He also has extensive experience with civil and criminal litigation in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Mr. Smith is the author of the leading two-volume treatise, Prosecution and Defense of Forfeiture Cases, published by Matthew Bender, and is considered the leading expert on forfeiture law in the United States. He is regularly quoted by newspaper reporters and has appeared on many national television and radio news programs. He is the co-author (with Terry Reed) of another leading treatise, Civil RICO, also published by Matthew Bender. The book covers criminal prosecutions as well as private, civil litigation under the RICO statute. Mr. Smith has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in civil RICO cases and has prosecuted and defended a number of criminal RICO cases. Mr. Smith was named in the 2009-2010 list of preeminent lawyers in the field of white collar criminal defense by the Virginia Super Lawyers magazine.
Mr. Smith has counseled the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on forfeiture reform legislation and congressional oversight of the government's forfeiture efforts. He was heavily involved in drafting the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, the first major reform of our civil forfeiture laws in 200 years. Mr. Smith has also worked closely with the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules on amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure governing civil and criminal forfeiture proceedings. In 2000-2001, Mr. Smith was appointed by Senator Richard Shelby (R. Ala.), the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to serve as a Commissioner with the Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Asset Control. He received the NACDL President's Commendation for outstanding service in 1993, 1994 and 2004. Mr. Smith represents the NACDL at meetings of the Over-Criminalization Working Group, which brings together various organizations across the political spectrum that share an interest in criminal justice reform. The Group is chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, III of the Heritage Foundation.
Mr. Smith has testified before congressional committees several times with respect to forfeiture and money laundering legislation. On April 3, 2008, Mr. Smith testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in opposition to S.973, the “Restitution for Victims of Crime Act.” The draconian pretrial asset restraint provision in the bill would have allowed the government to pauperize defendants and prevent them from retaining counsel without giving the defendant a fair opportunity to be heard on the propriety of the restraint.
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