Kathleen Smith was elected Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit in 2008, serving the citizens of Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades, and Lee Counties. Ms. Smith obtained her BA and Law Degree from The University of Florida, and recently earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Florida Gulf Coast University.
Ms. Smith began her law practice as an assistant Public Defender in 1990. She currently specializes in representing client’s living with mental illness and is a past recipient of Advocate of the Year awarded by Lee Mental Health Inc. Furthermore; Ms. Smith was honored with a Florida Senator’s Proclamation for her advocacy on behalf of mentally ill clients. Because of her passion to assist clients living with and recovering from mental illness and substance abuse issues, Ms. Smith was appointed on behalf of the Florida Public Defender Association to serve on Florida Supreme Court’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health task force.
In addition to Ms. Smith’s role as Public Defender for the 20th Circuit, she is very involved in the community. She is an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University teaching Constitutional Criminal Procedure. She has served on the Board of Directors for the PACE School for Girls in Lee County, Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Lee Mental Health Inc., and the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies through Florida Gulf Coast University. Lastly, Ms. Smith is also a member of Elk’s Lodge 2596 in Cape Coral. FL. and currently serves in the role of Justice of the Forum.
Putting her Public Administration degree to good use, Ms. Smith’s office has been a recipient of the prestigious Prudential Davis Productivity Award recognizing major government improvement initiatives for 2011, 2012, and 2013.