SBCPD’s Supervising Deputy Public Defender Derrick Smith, head of the office’s Post-Conviction Unit, was recently featured on attorney Joe Richardson’s podcast, Joespeak!: “In this episode, South Central L.A. native, attorney Derrick Smith, Supervising Deputy Public Defender in San Bernardino County, talks about the origin of his passion for criminal defense work. He tells stories from the courtroom and puts expert eyes on the police situations playing out in society today. As an attorney who has tried cases ranging from misdemeanors to murder, Derrick provides perspective on the criminal justice system as an African-American man, father and husband, and reminds citizens not to neglect duties that can be the difference for his clients.”

Listen to the full interview below or on YouTube.


I’m going to have some clients that are just unhappy with their past experience with the public defender, their past experience with the criminal justice system, and are just upset for no other reason than that I am doing my job as a public defender. I accept that, I recognize that, and I give those clients the same amount of respect and courtesy that I give the ones that are coming to me with ‘Hi, Mr. Smith, how are you doing? I’m glad you’re working on my case.’ Everybody gets the same approach. Sometimes those individuals that are agitated just want to be heard. They’re upset because no one has listened to them. Oftentimes with a person that’s agitated from the very beginning, I overcome that by just sitting down and listening. Giving them 10 minutes to get whatever it is off their chest.… Oftentimes that person has had several days to sit and stew about what’s happened to them.… They’ve talked to other people that have been in custody and shared similar stories. Then they get to talk to somebody that they attach to the criminal justice system, and I get lashed out at…. I try to give the client that opportunity to vent. It allows us to move forward and build a relationship once they’ve got the opportunity to be heard.