August 7, 2017: New York State Bar Association Mourns Passing of Former State Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith

The New York State Bar Association today is mourning the loss of former Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals George Bundy Smith. 

“Judge George Bundy Smith was a pioneer in the efforts for greater diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession,” said New York State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman. “His long and distinguished record of public and professional service serves as an inspiration to all members of the bar.” 

Smith served as chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee on the Civil Rights Agenda, which issued a report in 2008 identifying goals to help advance civil rights. This included ways to enhance ongoing efforts to improve educational opportunities for African Americans and others in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. 

In 2007, the State Bar’s Commercial & Federal Litigation Section honored Smith with its inaugural George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award. Each year since, the award named in Smith’s honor has recognized a lawyer who demonstrates commitment to legal excellence, community service and mentoring. 

The State Bar's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion also honored Smith in 2006 with a Diversity Trailblazer Award. In 2005, the Albany Law Review’s State Constitutional Commentary was dedicated to Smith and included an article from the State Bar’s president at the time, Kenneth G. Standard. 

Smith spent 31 years on the bench. He served as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, from 1987-1992. In 1992, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo appointed him to the Court of Appeals, where he served until he retired in 2006. He was just the third African American appointed to the state's highest court. Previous judicial service included the Civil Court of New York City and the state Supreme Court. 

The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876. 

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Contact: Christian Nolan
Senior Writer
cnolan@nysba.org
518/487-5536