The Fordham Law community mourns the passing of longtime Fordham Law School Adjunct Professor and New York Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith Sr. He died on August 5 at age 80.
Smith served on the New York Court of Appeals for 14 years until his retirement in 2006. Notably, he wrote the majority opinion in People v. Lavalle, a 2004 ruling that effectively ended the death penalty in the state of New York.
Smith’s strident pursuit of justice defined his life long before he sat on the state’s high court. In 1961, Smith, then a young civil rights activist, was arrested during a “Freedom Ride” in Alabama.
“He was a giant who left a mark on New York, and we are all better for it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “From his days as a Freedom Rider, to serving as a jurist on the state trial courts, to his tenure on the state’s highest court … Judge Bundy Smith lived a life of distinction and public service.”
Smith served on the Civil Court of New York City from 1975 to 1979, on the state Supreme Court in Manhattan from 1980 to 1986, and on the Appellate Division First Department, from 1986 to 1992. He became a partner at Chadbourne & Parke in Manhattan after his retirement from the New York Court of Appeals in 2006.
Starting in 1981, Smith taught a New York Criminal Procedure course at Fordham Law, according to his bio on the Historical Society of the New York Courts web site. Smith received an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Fordham Law in May 2004, in recognition of his years of dedication and excellence in teaching at the School.