Meet Judge Sarah Smith
Serving Her Community Both On and Off the Bench
With over 25 years of military experience, well over a decade of litigation experience, and five years on the bench, Judge Sarah Smith has continuously put service over self and dedicated her life to serving her beloved country. She is lifelong resident of Madison County, she is a patriot, and she has risked her life to defend the United States Constitution.
Sarah understands what partisan politics has done to our country at the national level and she refuses to give it a place in the Courtroom. Sarah was appointed Associate Judge in 2015. Because of her honesty, integrity, and reputation for always doing the hard-right thing Judge Smith won her election for Circuit Court Judge in 2018 by overwhelming bipartisan support. Now, she’s running for 5th District Appellate Court Judge to continue her lifetime commitment to service and justice and to prove to the citizens of Southern Illinois that she is a candidate who loves her country and her community and who is willing to put patriotism over political partisanship.
After graduating law school Judge Smith spent 13 years as a trial attorney, handling a wide variety of civil cases and practicing law throughout Southern Illinois and Missouri in both Federal and State Courts. Prior to her appointment on the bench she served as an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. In 2015 she was appointed to serve as an associate judge in the Family Division, Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois. She was a presiding judge over the Domestic Violence Accountability Court and the Child Support Accountability Court.
Judge Smith has presided over civil, criminal, traffic and misdemeanor, family, probate, mass torts, juvenile and small claims cases giving her a wide range of judicial experience. She is a Chair of the Madison County Pro-Bono Committee, Vice President of the Madison County Bar Association, a Board Member of the Illinois Judges Association and a past office holder of the Illinois Judges Foundation. She is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association, specifically the Military and Elder law subcommittees. Her diverse experience in the private, public, and military sectors makes her uniquely qualified to serve as Appellate Court Judge.
In addition to her service on the bench, Judge Smith is an active member of her community. For her dedication to various charitable causes in the area Judge Smith was awarded the YWMCA’s Women of Distinction Award in 2018, the Alton Boys and Girls Club Ambassador Award in 2018 and 2019, and Millikin University’s Alumni Merit Award in 2019. She actively participates in various organizations such as the Alton Chapter’s Sleep in Heavenly Peace (an organization that builds beds for children in need), Riverbend Family Ministries, the Alton Boys and Girls Club, Madison County Urban League. She is also a board member of the Edwardsville YMCA and a member of the Edwardsville Gun Club. She has been invited to speak at hundreds of community events over the past several years.
Service Above Self
Judge Smith enlisted in the United States Army as a mechanic right out of high school. She used the GI Bill to put herself through college. She obtained her Bachelors, Masters, and Juris Doctorate degree all while serving in the US Military. She was commissioned as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) after she passed the Illinois Bar.
In addition to spending weeks in Louisiana to assist in the response to Hurricane Katrina, Judge Smith has mobilized in response to numerous to domestic missions such as the NATO Summit, flood relief effort, and most recently assisted with the COVID-19 response efforts. In addition to her homeland defense mission, Judge Smith was also deployed for two combat tours. In Afghanistan, above and beyond her assigned duties, Judge Smith also served as a volunteer firefighter for Camp Phoenix. She also performed numerous mounted and dismounted security patrols. She also organized, planned, and lead dozens of humanitarian assistance missions to impoverished villages terrorized by the Taliban. She traveled extensively throughout Afghanistan to provide legal services and briefs to Soldiers in remote forward operating bases and combat outposts. She was also selected to train and mentor the only female general in the Afghanistan Army. For her service in Afghanistan she was awarded the Bronze Star.
She is currently a Colonel in the United States Army, the highest-ranking JAG officer in the Illinois Army National Guard, and was the first woman selected and appointed to serve as a military judge in the entire U.S. Army National Guard. Judge Smith played a key role in drafting the first Illinois National Guard Manual for Courts Martials and has spoke of her military experiences to the United Nations Symposium as well as to various other foreign militaries.
In 2018, Judge Smith was selected to enroll as a student of United States Army War College and is expected to graduate with a Master’s in Strategic Studies in July of 2020.