Jonathan M. Smith
Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs &
Associate Professor of Law
B.A., University of Maine; J.D., Antioch School of Law.
Jonathan Smith became Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 2015.
Prior to joining the School of Law, he was the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. During his four and a half year tenure, the Section completed 18 investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement, including the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting. The Section also investigated patterns and practices of excessive force, illegal search and seizures and race bias in law enforcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Puerto Rico and elsewhere. He was involved in the ground breaking investigation of gender bias in the handling of sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the Missoula Montana Police Department and the Missoula Montana County Attorney, which resulted in model reform agreements.
During his time in the Civil Rights Division, the Section expanded its work on juvenile justice reform, including the first Civil Rights Division findings that a juvenile court operated in violation of the United States Constitution and federal law. That investigation led to the landmark agreement to address equal protection, due process and Sixth Amendment violations in Shelby County, Tennessee. The Section also pursued correctional system reform on issues related to prison violence, the abuse of solitary confinement and the protection of women prisoners from sexual assault. In addition, the Section worked closely with the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative to file four Statements of Interest (amicus briefs) in Sixth Amendment systemic reform matters.
While he was Chief, the Section entered into five state-wide agreements to ensure that persons with disabilities are not unnecessarily segregated in institutions in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under these agreements, thousands of persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities are now living in the community and receiving necessary services to live, play and work with their non-disabled peers.
Mr. Smith has an extensive career in civil legal services prior to his government services. He was the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. In each of these positions, in addition to providing program leadership, he has handled individual, class action and impact litigation, engaged in legislative advocacy and in institutional reform efforts. He started his career as an associate to Virginia civil rights lawyer Victor Glasberg.
Mr. Smith served for five years on the District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission. He is also a member of the American Law Institute and the DC Bar Judicial Evaluation Committee. He is the recipient of the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Advocate for Justice Award, the Meyer Foundation Exponent Award, the Washington Council of Lawyers President’s Award, the Council for Court Excellence Justice Potter Stewart Award, the Center for Non-Profit Advancement EXCELL Award, the United States Attorney General’s John Marshall Award, and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys Director’s Award.