Robert S. Smith

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Robert S. Smith
Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
January 12, 2004 – December 31, 2014
Appointed by George Pataki
Preceded by Richard C. Wesley
Succeeded by Eugene M. Fahey
Personal details
Born (1944-08-31) August 31, 1944 (age 71)
New York City, New York
Alma mater Stanford University
Columbia Law School

Robert Sherlock Smith (born August 31, 1944)[1] is a former Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, New York's highest court. Smith retired on December 31, 2014, due to the State Constitution's requirement that judges retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reached the age of 70.

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born in New York City in 1944, and grew up in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He graduated from Stanford University in 1965 and from Columbia Law School in 1968, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review.

Pre-judicial career[edit]

From 1968 to 2003 he practiced law in New York City with the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, taking a one-year leave of absence in 1980-81 to serve as Visiting Professor from Practice at Columbia Law School.

In private practice, Smith was best known for representing a shopping center in a case, Shad Alliance v. Smith Haven Mall, that established that the right of free speech does not require shopping centers to allow people to hand out literature on their property; for representing United Airlines' pilots' union in its attempt to take over United Airlines; and for arguing two death penalty appeals before the United States Supreme Court.

Court of Appeals[edit]

On November 4, 2003, he was appointed by Governor George Pataki to the Court of Appeals. During his first year, he emerged as the court's most vigorous questioner from the bench.

In October 2011, Smith gave the keynote address at the Seventh Annual Friedrich A. von Hayek Lecture, "The Hayekian Judge," sponsored by New York University Journal of Law and Liberty. He was introduced by Richard Epstein.

Judge Smith teaches a class at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with former dean David Rudenstine called "Authority and Liberty."

Notable opinions[edit]

Post-judicial career[edit]

Smith became a partner in New York City law firm Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP on January 1, 2015, one day after retiring from the Court of Appeals.[2]


Smith's son is journalist Ben Smith,[3] and his daughter is lawyer Rosemary Szanyi.[4]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Judge Robert S. Smith of the New York Court of Appeals to Join Friedman Kaplan". Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP. December 11, 2014. Archived from the original on January 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ (6 October 2002). WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS; Liena Zagare, Benjamin Smith, The New York Times
  4. ^ "Rosemary Smith, Jason Szanyi - Weddings". The New York Times. 2012-12-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-07. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Richard C. Wesley
Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
Eugene M. Fahey