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Nashville-Davidson Co Criminal Court Judge, Div. 4 (unexpired term)

In addition to having jurisdiction over criminal cases, Criminal Court judges hear misdemeanor appeals from lower courts. 

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    Jennifer Smith

Biographical Information

What qualifies you as the best candidate for this office?

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?

What are the most pressing issues facing the public that you plan to address?

Education University of Mississippi, 08/84 – 05/88, Bachelor of Arts (English), awarded May 1988. University of Mississippi School of Law, 08/88 – 05/91, Juris Doctor, cum laude, awarded May 1991. National Intelligence University, Washington, D.C., 08/06 – 07/08, Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence, awarded July 2008.
Occupation Trial Judge, Criminal Court, Division IV, 20th Judicial District of Tennessee, serving Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County
Campaign Phone (615) 957-7569
Age 54
My broad experience and knowledge in criminal justice over 25 years as a practitioner and jurist set me apart for the position of Criminal Court Judge. I have a proven record and experience as a Judge since November 2018, managing a high-volume criminal court docket and supervising a separate residential drug treatment court. As an attorney for the State of Tennessee, I handled criminal law cases at all levels of the state and federal appellate courts, including the Tennessee Supreme Court and three arguments before the United States Supreme Court. I have substantial trial-court experience in private practice defending individuals accused of criminal violations. I bring a commitment to service that provides a solid foundation for the exercise of judgment tempered by compassion. I gained strong leadership and management skills through 20+ years of military service and deployments. I am also a mother to two teenage sons and have a deep commitment to the Nashville community.
I have served as Criminal Court Judge since my appointment to the position in November 2018. As a sitting judge, I am sworn to uphold and apply the law fairly and impartially in all cases that come before me. I am committed to the fair and just treatment of every person who comes into Division IV Criminal Court, treating all persons with dignity and respect and seeking solutions in every case that facilitate treatment and rehabilitation. As presiding Judge of the Davidson County Drug Court (DC4), I am a strong proponent of recovery-based supervision that diverts non-violent offenders away from prison and restores individual lives, families, and communities. If elected to retain the position, I hope to expand the drug court capacity through added bed space and program offerings, including formalized vocational training. And I will strive to maintain an atmosphere of professionalism and civility in the Criminal Court.
Improving the effectiveness of community-based supervision as an alternative to incarceration is an issue that I hope to address going forward. Community engagement to establish partnerships aimed at educational and economic opportunities for individuals in the criminal justice system is critical to breaking the cycle of criminal behavior, and I plan to focus my efforts on growing the list of community partners that can provide more options and opportunity for persons seeking to turn their lives around. Recovery courts are also a proven model for reducing recidivism and diverting individuals from incarceration. My number one priority is seeking additional funding for expansion and improvement of Nashville’s flagship drug treatment court – DC4 – so that it continues to be a model for the country of what real criminal justice reform can look like.