I don’t believe in the death penalty? Forget
about the moral issue. The one issue that
nobody can dispute, I don’t care who you
are: The death penalty is the final act of
punishment. Can anybody disagree with
that? No. Can you disagree with the fact
that our judicial system is imperfect? No. If
you have an imperfect system, why would
you ever impose the ultimate penalty?
I’m not a bleeding heart liberal. I’m
conservative in some ways. I’m liberal
in others. I’m a registered independent
voter. I don’t ascribe to anyone’s particular
political philosophy, but that’s the biggest
argument for me. You have a judicial
system—although it’s the best that exists—
it’s imperfect. I think it was Churchill that
said “the best of an imperfect system.”
POPE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15
That’s why people have been let out of jail.
That’s why there are appellate courts. Jurors
make mistakes. When you make a mistake,
you can let somebody out after 18 years. The
most precious commodity we have in life is
time. Think about that. How important is it to
stop somebody from going to jail if they’re not
guilty? You can get everything in the world
back if you work hard enough, but you can’t
get your time back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Q: What’s your courtroom style?
A: Well, I’m not melodramatic. Am I
Q: I wouldn’t have guessed.
A: [Laughs] Am I animated? Am I expressive?
If I’m cross-examining someone and I’ve
made a point, do I look at that jury? When
I’m giving an opening or a summation,
am I looking at every single juror? Am I
coming in with charts and PowerPoint?
SMITH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19
threw it out a second time,” she explains.
“And I won a second appeal.” Before the case
was headed back to court, UPS settled.
The suit resulted in two published
appellate decisions and garnered
national headlines highlighting love in
Early on, Smith recognized the power
and majesty of the jury system. “A jury trial
is truly the only event in which an individual
can face off against a corporate giant and
get a fair fight,” she says.
Still, going up against titans is a long,
expensive process. There have been times
when Smith and Mullin have maxed their
line of credit to pay for expert witnesses and
investigations. For the first 15 years they
practiced together, they struggled to pay bills.
Their first big paycheck came in 1998, after
a $10 million whistle-blower suit against
Mobil Oil. The couple put their earnings
toward a Victorian cottage built in 1896 in
Longport, large enough for family gatherings.
Over the years, Smith has won such
important decisions as a suit establishing
the rights of students who have HIV-positive
siblings to attend public school, as well as
discrimination suits based on pregnancy,
disability, age, gender and sexual orientation.
“The best lawyers put themselves in the
shoes of their adversary, but Nancy takes that
a step further and puts herself in the shoes of
her clients, too,” says Jack Voynick, a personal
injury attorney with Renda & Voynick in Cedar
Grove. “She is a very positive person with an
endless well of energy.”
Smith is just as devoted outside the
courthouse. She is the driving force behind
Wynona’s House in Newark, a nonprofit
organization that helps children who have
been harmed by sexual abuse or other
violence. She persuaded Voynick to serve
on the board.
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