Spotlight On: SADO Attorney Chris Smith Selected for 2015 Thomas Award

The Michigan Appellate Defender Commission has selected SADO Assistant Defender Christopher Smith as the fourth recipient of the 2015 Thomas Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy.

Named for SADO’s long-serving and much-respected Norris J. Thomas, Jr., the award is given annually to a SADO attorney whose appellate advocacy achieves outstanding results for clients or the criminal justice system. Norris J. Thomas, Jr., served as SADO’s Deputy Director over two decades before his untimely passing in 2007. Norris’ dedication to clients, and craft in achieving excellent outcomes, were legendary.

Chris joined SADO in 2007 after working in the Illinois Appellate Defender Office for two years.  He has been a tireless advocate for his clients, and has demonstrated outstanding legal skills in both the trial and appellate courts. Chris has handled exclusively plea appeals for the past three years, and has achieved excellent results for his individual clients, including sentence reductions, withdrawal of pleas, and awards of jail credit.

In addition to numerous victories in the Court of Appeals, Chris also achieved recent success in People v McKinley, 496 Mich 410 (2014) in which the Michigan Supreme Court substantially limited the scope of restitution that can be ordered pursuant to a felony conviction.

In addition to carrying a full caseload at SADO, Chris has taught the Plea and Sentencing Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law since 2013, and the Wayne State University Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic before that. He serves on the State Bar Criminal Jury Instruction Committee, and has been a regular lecturer for in-house and statewide training seminars.

by Michael Mittlestat
Deputy Director
State Appellate Defender Office