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Jean Monestime honors first Black assistant county attorney, H.T. Smith

caines | 3/8/2012, 4 a.m.

During the last week of February, County Commissioner Jean Monestime honored H.T. Smith, Miami-Dades first Black assistant county attorney during the regularly scheduled County Commission meeting in observance of Black History Month. During a proclamation ceremony, Monestime declared February 21st H.T. Smith Day. Smith was born in Miami and educated in Miamis then-segregated public school system. He graduated from Florida A&M University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics. Upon graduation, he received his commission as an officer in the U.S. Army, serving a tour of duty in the Vietnam War. Smiths passion for a cause and effective advocacy skills were evidenced early on when he persuaded the University of Miami School of Law to admit him before even taking the LSAT. He argued that it was unfair to punish him for not being able to take a test that was not administered in the jungles of Vietnam while he fought for his country. His legal career blazed new trails from the start as Miami-Dade County's first Black assistant public defender, and then as the County's first Black assistant county attorney. For the past 38 years, he has practiced law in Miami, specializing in civil rights, personal injury and criminal defense. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Florida Super Lawyers, Law and Leading American Attorneys and the National Law Journal recognized him as one of the top ten trial lawyers of the year. Miami-Dade County is a better place as a result of individuals such as H.T. Smith and it is an honor for me to recognize him today, Monestime said.