Longtime Florida Keys attorney Jason Smith is the second person to announce his candidacy for the county judge’s position in Group 1. The primary election takes place Aug. 23. 

“I am ready on day one to take the bench with fairness and impartiality, as I have a passion for justice,” Smith said. “We live in an active, informed and concerned county that has us always striving to do better.”

Smith said his campaign is founded on the same principles with which he practiced law for 35 years: experience, accountability and equality. 

His experience includes 35 years as a trial lawyer, including “well over 50 felony trials, as well as numerous misdemeanor, family law and civil trials.” Smith said he  is also one of the few attorneys in Monroe County who is statutorily qualified to handle death penalty cases.  

“County court judge is not a theoretical position. It is a hands-on job that requires an experienced trial lawyer. I am a strong advocate for public service. I have represented people from all parts of our diverse community in a variety of cases with an emphasis on criminal cases. I have had two stints at the public defender’s office and was in private practice for over 20 years,” he said. “I have represented those flesh and blood people looking at losing their life, liberty, rights and property through the court system. Engaging people under extreme circumstances has given me insights into human nature, motivations and assessing credibility. This is what you want in your judge — understanding and discretion.”

He emphasized that all parties in the justice system must be held accountable for their actions in a fair, unbiased manner. And all parties must be treated with equal justice under the law. 

“Too often we fail to do this systemically. A judge has to be aware of this and be dedicated to this principle in order to render justice,” he said. “The significance of the work we do is drawing the most important lines that society can draw, the line between liberty and punishment, the taking of rights and property delivered at the hands of the state. If the state is permitted to impose these punishments and outcomes to whatever degree, without going through the procedures and rituals that have to do with reliability and respect for dignity, overseen by a judge, then we are all lesser for it.”

Smith also commended outgoing Judge Peary Fowler, saying, “She has treated all who have come before her with dignity and respect. She has adjudicated cases with empathy and intelligence. That is what I aspire to do as judge.”

Smith is thus far running against Key West attorney Al Kelley. Smith can be reached at 305-747- 2926 or [email protected]

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.