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  • Charles J. Smith Founding partner
  • Phone: 650-568-2825

    Fax: 650-568-2823

    Email: Charles J. Smith ›

Founding partner

Charles J. Smith began his career with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office in 1978. In 1980 he was elevated to the Major Crimes Unit where he tried 15 homicides. He then practiced insurance defense as an Associate with Ropers, Majeski, Kohn, Bentley, Wagner and Kane, where he tried and won five civil jury trials in a fourteen month period. Mr. Smith began his own practice in 1991.

Charles J. Smith has been one of the leading trial lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area since the late 1970’s to present. Mr. Smith began his career with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office in 1978. In 1980 he was elevated to the Major Crimes Unit where he tried 15 homicides. He then practiced insurance defense as an Associate with Ropers, Majeski, Kohn, Bentley, Wagner and Kane, where he tried and won five civil jury trials in a fourteen month period. Mr. Smith began his own practice in 1991. He tries from five to ten cases a year in both the civil and criminal courts of this state. Mr. Smith has tried jury trials from Crescent City in Del Norte County in the north to Indio in San Bernardino County in the south achieving victory after victory on behalf of his clients. Mr. Smith has tried cases as varied as the defense of Silicon Valley venture capitalists being sued for $20,000,000 on a fraud claim to defending a former U.S. Army Captain who was acquitted of mandatory prison charges based on a PTSD defense. Mr. Smith enjoys the variety of cases that he has taken to trial. As in the British system of solicitors and barristers, Mr. Smith believes that a trial lawyer should be able to try any dispute where a question of credibility exists. His qualities of hard work, thorough preparation, intense energy and devotion to his client’s cause are the hallmark of his trial practice.

Mr. Smith was elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates in 1992. Over the course of his career, he has tried over 300 jury trials to verdict. In 2003 alone, he tried 14 jury trials to verdict-seven civil trials and seven criminal trials-more than any other private lawyer in the state of California.

In 2009, the 32nd year of his practice Mr. Smith tried six cases to verdict including the successful defense of a local community college against an employment claim in Monterey County and obtaining an acquittal for a fellow lawyer who was charged with felony assault over an alleged ‘road rage’ incident in San Mateo County.

In 2015, Mr. Smith’s 40th year of practice, he has tried ten cases. Seven of these went to either jury verdict or court decision. Among the most notable, Mr. Smith successfully defended a high-level engineer at Apple Computer who was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. He was acquitted. In a trial in May 2015 before Hon. Barbara Mallach in Redwood City, Mr. Smith obtained a decision for a gasoline wholesaler against a service station owner which included every dollar of damages and every dollar of attorney’s fees.

Between August 3, 2015 and December 16, 2015, Mr. Smith commenced seven jury trials, four of which went to verdict. Four of these cases were criminal and three civil. Like a baseball pitcher who stays sharp and focused by starting every four days, Mr. Smith likewise believes that regularly trying cases at the pace of approximately once per month hones his skills and keeps him at the top of his game.

Mr. Smith has been invited to provide his expert legal commentary for both the Bay Area and national press. He has appeared as a legal analyst on CNN, CBS, Larry King Live, and Good Morning America. Mr. Smith speaks to lawyers groups on trial practice and volunteers his time to the local high school community as a teacher/coach in the statewide Mock Trial Program.

Mr. Smith has received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, the national directory of lawyers. This is the highest possible rating attainable and indicates preeminent legal ability and the utmost ethical standards.

Bar Admissions
  • California, 1976
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1976
Education
Professional memberships
  • San Mateo County Bar Association
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (Association)
Representative Trial Results:
  • Randall v. Campbell; Santa Clara County; CV804209; Jan. 2003 defense of breach of contract and fraud claims; defense verdict
  • Dennis Carroll v. Lorraine Andel, San Mateo County CIV418215; July 2003, defense of wrongful death claim; defense verdict
  • Balce v. Lucky Chances, Inc. USDC, Northern District; 07-01090 Hon. Jeffrey White; Feb 2008, defense of wage and hour claims; defense verdict
  • Lawrence/Culver v. Hartnell Community College, Monterey County, M88730, July 2009, successful defense of a $2 million wrongful termination claim by two executive assistants. Defense verdict on all claims
  • Moncayo v. Holiday Inn, San Mateo County, CIV478734; June 2010, defense of wage and hour claims, discrimination in workplace claims; defense verdict
  • Specialized v. Volagi, Santa Clara County 1-10-CV185692; Jan. 2012; breach of contract, theft of trade secrets, defense, recovery of client’s attorney’s fees
  • Mary Lucas v. Recommind, San Francisco County; CGC 10-497516; July 2012; defense of wrongful termination; wage and hour; defense verdict
  • People v. D.B.; Santa Clara County Superior Court, Palo Alto Division, April 2014, acquittal of a Seattle Seahawks wide receiver charged with unlawful battery.
  • Arturo Salume v. Myrta Salume, San Mateo County; June 2014; defense of breach of contract claims; defense verdict
  • Stevens v. Davis; San Mateo Superior Case #CIV524878; June 2015; Hon. Richard DuBois; defense decision in a wrongful termination claim by an African-American caregiver against the family that employed her.
  • Lopez et. al. v. Lucky Chances, San Mateo County; Hon. Joseph Bergeron; April 2015: defense of a $5million class action tip-pooling wage and hour claim
  • DFEH v. Fortune Players Group, San Mateo County, Judge Elizabeth Lee; Sept. 2015 defense of wrongful failure to promote based on gender/ethnic origin; $200,000 settlement demand; $35,000 verdict
  • People v. Marcos H. – Santa Clara County, Judge JoAnne McCracken; October 2016; hung 9-3 for acquittal in child pornography charges; case dismissed
  • People v. Wayne Bair – San Mateo County, Judge Lisa Novak; Nov./Dec. 2016 – acquittal of 1st Degree Murder charges – first outright acquittal in a 1st Degree Murder charge in San Mateo County since mid-90’s
  • People v. Sam K. – Santa Clara County, Judge Shelyna Brown – April 2017 – acquittal of 7 counts of lewd conduct with a child.