August 7, 2017

Speaker Heastie Statement on Passing of Retired Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith

"I am saddened to learn that the Honorable George Bundy Smith, freedom rider, lifelong civil rights champion and former New York State Court of Appeals Judge has passed on.

Judge Smith was raised in segregated Washington, D.C, an experience that shaped the rest of his life and career. He was among the brave men and women who stood in courageous defiance of discrimination and prejudice as "freedom riders" during the tumultuous days of the Civil Rights Movement. He graduated from Yale Law School and was determined to use his legal skills to right the wrongs of segregation and promote the concept of fundamental fairness and the rule of law. After law school, his career began at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. and throughout his career he remained committed to the education of lawyers.

He also was a role model and mentor to attorneys and judges of all stripes but especially for African Americans. Judge Smith was a passionate advocate for increasing the diversity of the bar and the bench. He served on several courts in New York, culminating in his appointment to the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, in 1992.

Though we have lost an honorable and dedicated public servant, let us remember his contributions to the history of this nation and to the people of our great state. His life is a testament to the unwavering strength and perseverance of all those who turn challenges into opportunity. On behalf of the Assembly I offer sincerest condolences to his loved ones."