Justice serves – Smith takes oath for state Supreme Court

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Many Shelby County residents turned out last Friday in Montgomery to see one of their own become an Associate Supreme Court Justice.

Longtime Juvenile Court Judge Patti Smith was sworn in alongside her robing committee which included her husband Jerry; her children, Shelley Marck and Jarrett Smith; her parents, Andy and Norma Mungenast; and longtime friend, Beth Chapman.

With her hand on the Bible and her robing committee behind her, Smith took the oath of office from Chief Justice of the state’s highest court, Drayton Nabers Jr.

&uot;Twenty-five years ago this month,&uot; she said in the speech which followed, &uot;I put on a robe for the first time.

&uot;I was overwhelmed with humility at the awesome responsibility of handling the cases of children.

&uot;Today, I am again overwhelmed with humility at the responsibility ahead of me.&uot;

She said she was grateful for the opportunity to share her day with her brother, Brig. Gen. James M. Mungenast of the U.S. Air Force Reserves and her son-in-law, Cadet David W. Marck Jr. of the U.S. Army, both of whom led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.

She told those gathered on Friday that as she began this new chapter in her career, she asked for continued prayers in seeking to become &uot;the just judge described in the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Isaiah.&uot;

Smith said she was especially blessed by her family many of whom joined her at Troy State University’s Davis Theatre in Montgomery for the ceremony.

Smith is the fifth of the Mungenasts’ 14 children.

Her father was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, so she attended elementary schools in Canada and Colorado and high school at Montgomery Catholic High School. She then graduated with honors from Troy State University and was selected the 1973 Outstanding Female Graduate by the Troy Chamber of Commerce.

She attended law school while working at the Veteran’s Administration regional office in Montgomery and graduated in 1976.

She practiced law briefly in Pelham with the firm Bell, Johnson and Medaris.

She was hired as the first female assistant district attorney for the 18th Judicial Circuit, and in 1980, she was appointed by then-Gov. Fob James as Shelby County District Court Judge.

She was elected to the bench that same year and was re-elected in 1986, 1992 and 1998. She is currently one of the longest-serving judges in the state.

Justice Smith helped to establish the Developing Alabama Youth Foundation Inc. (DAY program) and the Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

In addition, she has served on the advisory board to the Alabama Department of Youth Services, King’s Ranch, Family Connection Inc. and the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Facility.

She currently serves on the state Department of Human Resources’ Quality Assurance Committee, serving as chairman of the agency’s Policy Review Committee.

In 2001, she was named the National CASA Judge of the Year for her innovative and long-standing commitment to children and family issues.

Justice Smith plans to maintain an office in Columbiana as well as an office in Montgomery.

Also sworn in at the investiture ceremony were associate justices Tom Parker and Mike Bolin and Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge Tommy Bryan