Emily Berry
Staff reporter

Christopher Smith is one of the 19th Judicial District Court judges residing in Arkansas City.  Smith graduated from Southwestern in 1995 and graduated from law school at Oklahoma City University in 1998.

What made Smith want to obtain a career in the judicial system was his past experiences and education.

Smith said, “Before I went to law school, I clerked at the public defender’s office in Sedgwick County. Part of the things I have to do was go into the courtrooms, watch jury trials, and watch lawyers and judges in action. I met a couple judges that I really grew to respect. Both judges made a good impression on me and as to having a calm judicial temperament even in some very stressful times. After I graduated from law school, I started working for the public defender’s office and I practiced in front of these men. I learned even more about them, watch them and really said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to do some day, I want to be on the bench.’”

His experience also helps him as a professor. Meghan Kindred, psychology sophomore said, “His experience as a judge gives him background knowledge of what he’s actually talking about and gives lots of firsthand accounts of different experiences he has had as a judge.” 

With Smith being a district judge, he has learned to listen to every opinion.  Marcelo Mann, psychology freshman said, “He has to involve every opinion and has to consider every opinion in the same way that’s his own and therefore I think his different teaching style and his different ability to take all the opinions makes him a better teacher also because he works as a district judge.”

Smith, compared to other professors has a different and unique way of teaching.  Mann said, “He focuses more on talking and he’s asking more questions to his students and that is what makes him a better professor in my opinion because he doesn’t only teach he also involves the students, that what he does better comparing to other teachers.”  His way of teaching is also impacted.  “We do a lot of discussion in his class I think a lot of it is because he has more experience in the political science and criminal justice field,” said Kindred.

Within Smith’s years of being a Southwestern student he was also a Collegian staff member. Smith said, “I think I started on the Collegian it was either the summer of my freshman year or the first semester of my sophomore year. I went down and met with Kathy Willgers who was our advisor at that point in time and asked if I could be part of the Collegian, she was always looking for people, obviously, she must have been hard up because she accepted and let me be part of it and from there I worked as a staff reporter for a while and started writing things, I started writing some editorial and then became an editor the second semester of my junior year the all through senior year.”

Smith does continue to read the Collegian and grabs the paper whenever he is on campus.  With being a past staff member and seeing the Collegian now, he sees a difference and improvement of the content and layout compared to when he worked on the Collegian. “You all have a much better layout you probably have a much better design then we did. The layout looks a lot different, a lot more professionally done.”

The content is also a bit different from the content when he was a staff member.  “Your content is great I see you guys touch on some what I would say is thorny issues at times and I think that’s what a college newspaper has to do. We did to some extent, but I truly think the editors at the time and I had all kind of a philosophy that if it needed to be said it needed to be said,” said Smith.

Later in Smith’s life, he returned to Southwestern as a professor in the political science division and later the business division. As a professor in the political science division, he and another professor collaborated, created the criminal justice minor, and taught classes for the minor.

Smith said, “We collaborated a little bit and I eventually ended up teaching; Intro to criminal justice, criminal procedure, crime and punishment, special topics; which was ethics and leadership in criminal justice.” Getting criminal justice as a minor required a lot of hard work and time. “We worked very hard together.  There were a couple professors that came after I worked with. Dr. Barker was the one that I worked with, but I was teaching more in the business area and he picked up all the criminal justice classes.  Now I’m back to doing some of it,” said Smith.