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Frequently Asked Questions

Matt has provided answers to some frequently asked questions about his campaign as well as the background and extensive experience that has prepared him to serve as Common Pleas Judge.

Why are you running for this office?

Service.  I have served 23 years in the military and 17 years in the district attorney’s office.  I have always been focused on serving my community and my country, sometimes at great personal sacrifice.   

I believe strongly in the rule of law and have helped to establish it in foreign countries, through my service in the JAG Corps.  I have witnessed judges in those countries risk their lives and their families’ safety to uphold the rule of law.  I believe so deeply in the fair and proper administration of the law that

I have risked my own life to try to secure it for others.

It takes substantial and diverse experience, maturity, an even temperament and courage to make the right decision at the right time.  My lifetime of service has prepared me to make these decisions.

I want to become a Judge to serve.

What trial experience do you have?

I have tried approximately 100 jury trials ranging from DUIs, Domestic Violence, Rape/Sexual Assault, Crimes Against Children, Child Pornography, Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Theft, Insurance Fraud, Forgery, Drug Cases, Homicide while DUI, Attempted Murder and Solicitation to Commit Murder.

I have also tried approximately 500 non-jury trials, encompassing everything from the most minor traffic and summary cases normally handled at the Magistrate level to summary offenses, ungraded Misdemeanors, Indirect Criminal Contempt (PFAs), stipulated fact non-jury waiver trails, and felony non-jury waiver trials handled at the Court of Common Pleas level. Of the 500 non-jury trials, at least 350 of these were conducted in front of a Common Pleas Judge.  I have also conducted approximately 40-50 military hearings as military defense attorney and an uncontested General Courts-Martial as a military prosecutor.       

What relevant background do you have for this office?

Over the past 17 years in the district attorney’s office, I have substantial criminal experience as a prosecutor.  I have experience in a day-to-day, high stress environment where one must make critical, sometimes life and death decisions, in a shortened time span with limited information.  I interact with judges on a daily, if not hourly, basis in order to effectuate justice for society.  I speak to families of murder victims and little girls that were raped by their fathers.  I navigate the boundaries where crushing reality meets legal theorem.  And I do so in service to the greater good.

I combine that with my 23 years of military service in a similarly demanding environment. I was responsible for subordinate attorneys, paralegals, and other junior enlisted personnel.  I trained them.  I managed systems of systems - from ammunition supply, personnel management of 4,000+ Soldiers, Sailors and Marines flying into and out of Managua, Nicaragua.  I managed military justice and investigations for a 4,500-person brigade in Taji, Iraq, as well as a multi-state military defense team.  I have also helped to reconstitute a best practice legal assistance center for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.  I have tremendous civil experience as I have helped thousands of soldiers with a variety of legal issues such as wills, foreclosure, contract disputes, custody, domestic relations, and divorce amongst others.

Most recently, I served an 11-month tour in Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia where I instructed foreign officers on the law of war and preformed temporary duty at the United States Embassy in Kuwait.

What are your campaign issues?

Fair and swift justice.  I firmly believe that fair and swift justice serves all parties and the community best.  Cumberland County residents must be able to have faith in the justice system to administer fair judgment in a timely fashion for the wellbeing of everyone involved.  Victims deserve protection, resolution, and closure; members of the community deserve to live in peace, without fear; and the accused deserve fair treatment and a timely trial so that justice can be served.

Veterans’ Court.  I strongly believe that Cumberland County needs a Veterans' Court. I have represented many Soldiers in my military capacity that have manifested symptoms of combat-related stress and have seen, firsthand, both the value and effectiveness of Veterans' courts. The establishment of a Veterans' Court in Cumberland County is both fiscally and socially responsible.  Veteran’s Court offers an exceptional opportunity for rehabilitation and reintegration that would not otherwise occur.  I have referred Veterans to York County Veterans' Court with outcomes that are favorable for both the community and the service member.  There would be little to no net cost to establish and operate a Veterans' Court with appropriate integration of current systems and utilization of the Veterans' Administration. 

What do you seek to achieve in office?

For myself, nothing.  I have served and will continue to serve out of a sense of duty and honor.  I hope to maintain the commitment, dedication and professionalism that current board of Judges bring to the bench.

What carries the greatest influence in your rulings: case law, the Constitution, state statues, or other?

The Constitution of the United States, clearly defined law as delineated by the Supreme Court of United States, the Constitution of this Commonwealth, case law as delineated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania followed by rulings of the intermediate appellate courts, followed by Statute.  In order to make a ruling, however, one applies them in the reverse order.

Why are you the best candidate in this race?

Prior to this campaign, self-promotion was something I didn’t engage in.  In contrast, I have always supported victims of crime, the Commonwealth, or Soldiers as the case may be.  I think voters recognize, however, that it’s not necessarily the type of law one practices, but the quality of that type and what it implies.  Defense attorneys and prosecutors both have criminal experience, but only one of them is a public servant.  Prosecutors, and veterans, have both figuratively and literally passed through the fiery crucible of combat.  That’s not hyperbole, that’s reality. I am the best candidate because I just don’t know the law, I know the law and I have applied it repeatedly in high-stress demanding environments, both criminal and civil.  I am an academic, a soldier-scholar, and have practiced appellate law at every level of the Commonwealth and Federal Courts.  I am the practical and theoretical combined.

Who is your Campaign Chairman?

My campaign chairman is my father, Dr. Bruce L.R. Smith, Ph.D.  My father was one of six children who grew up in rural Minnesota, received a scholarship to the University of Minnesota and graduated Summa Cum Laude, was a Fulbright Scholar and later obtained his doctorate from Harvard.  He taught Political Science at Columbia University while my mother obtained her law degree.  Later, he moved to Washington D.C. where he was a Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute until he retired.  He is a lifelong Republican and author or editor of 20 books to include co-author of the book, Closed Minds?: Politics and Ideology in American Universities.  He is retired now, but as he has dedicated several books to me and my children; I dedicate this campaign to him.     


Paid for by Matt Smith for Judge

Use of photograph in uniform does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense.  By regulation, neither officially endorses candidates for public office.

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