Local attorney, 41, loses his law license
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 30, 2011 1:46 PM
Twice his defendants stood alone in the courtroom and on Thursday, in what will be the last case the 41-year-old attorney takes, Robert Smith stood alone defending himself in a hearing on two counts of criminal contempt.
Smith entered a plea of no contest in the hearing, which centered around two separate occasions when Smith reportedly did not show up for scheduled court appearances. The plea, Guilford County Resident Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright explained, would mean Smith would be treated as guilty regardless of whether he claimed to be innocent.
Smith said he understood, although he did explain the situations, one where he was sick to the point of needing to go to an emergency health care office and another when he claimed to have cases scheduled in Onslow County, as a means to mitigate his sentence.
In the end, Smith was sentenced to two consecutive 30-day terms in jail after one year of unsupervised probation and was told to surrender his law license, effective Oct. 14. From that day forward, Smith will never again be permitted to practice law in North Carolina.
He is prohibited from accepting any new cases and had to present a list of all pending cases to prosecutor Patrick Murphy with the North Carolina Attorney General's office and Albright. Those cases not resolved before Oct. 14 will be turned over to other attorneys and the fees paid for services for those cases will be turned over as well.
When asked if those were all the cases he had pending, Smith said they were all of the cases to his knowledge.
"If there's more..." he began, before being cut off by Albright, who reminded him that his misrepresentations in court were the reason he was there, and that if he didn't follow the stipulations of the plea worked out between him and the Attorney General's office, he could be arrested.
"You should know better," Albright told Smith.
Smith, who was born in Kinston but lives in Pikeville, is expected to appear in Superior Court again on Oct. 24 to face charges of driving while impaired and driving recklessly to endanger. He was also charged with assaulting a female in October 2010, although those charges were dismissed Nov. 15, 2010.