A passion for justice.

AuthorKaye, Judith S.
PositionNew York Court of Appeals judge George Bundy-Smith - Testimonial

Never have I written an opinion for the Court of Appeals with greater zeal than I do today, to express boundless admiration for our colleague and friend, the Honorable George Bundy Smith.

Apart from the explicit invitation to submit a "short" piece, two considerations limit the length and extravagance of this tribute. The first is our tradition of lean, temperate writing. The second--even more important--is that a profile should suit its subject, in this case a gentle, modest, self-effacing, unassuming individual, who never uses three words when two will do. And although he describes his twin sister--District of Columbia Court of Appeals Judge Inez Smith Reid--as "the quiet one," anyone who knows Judge Smith would immediately appreciate that gushy, hyperbolic prose is not high on his list. He will, however, have to tolerate a bit of it in order for this writing to do him justice. Doing justice, after all, is high on his list, and ours.

Indeed, Judge Smith's entire life has been committed to the pursuit of justice, assuring fairness, inclusiveness and equal opportunity--whether by his own active participation in the civil rights movement, (1) or by mentoring and opening doors for countless others, or by his long advocacy for equity in the electoral process, (2) to give but a few examples.

His deep and abiding passion for justice is matched only by his passion for hard work to secure it. From his earliest years, (3) he has never been content to rely on his innate brilliance, and here we again offer three examples. The first is his astounding post-high school academic achievement--Certificate of Political Studies, Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris; B.A., Yale University; L.L.B., Yale Law School; Master's Degree in Political Science and Ph.D. in Government, New York University; Master's Degree in the Judicial Process, University of Virginia Law School. As a second example of his work ethic we point to his constant companion--an armload of briefs and records to read. Always he is consummately prepared, the last of us to leave the courthouse, in the wee hours of the morning. And third, we cite his devotion to teaching, (4) lecturing, writing, (5) law school and bar association moot-court judging, as well as to his church and alma maters, in addition to a heavy docket of court commitments.

No wonder, then, that this extraordinary individual chose a career in the law, or that he initially put his abundant skills as an attorney to work for the...

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