In Memoriam: W. McKinley Smiley, Jr.

UPDATE 12/21/16:

Click here to read Professor Smiley’s obituary written in the Tampa Bay Times.

A private family service was held in West Palm Beach this weekend and a Celebration of his Life will follow in the New Year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of W. McKinley “Mickey” Smiley, Jr. to Hospice of the Chesapeake Foundation, John and Cathy Belcher Campus, 90 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, MD 21122 or at www.hospicechesapeake.org.


Today the Florida Justice Association family mourns the passing of Professor W. McKinley Smiley, Jr., our dear friend and a stalwart supporter of the civil justice system, legal education and the Florida Justice Association. He is affectionately known to all of us as “Mickey,” joining the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (AFTL) in 1963, shortly after admission to The Florida Bar. Mickey has been a regularly honored guest and speaker at the FJA’s Workhorse Seminar and Annual Conventions. These events will not be the same without his joyful and sparkling presence.

smiley-square-new

Professor Smiley was associated with Stetson University College of Law for over 40 years and retired in 2005, as Senior Member of the Faculty of Law. He received degrees from Duke University (BA), Emory University College of Law (J.D.), University of Miami (L.L.M. with a Specialty in International Law), and he served as Chair of visiting Scholars at Yale Law School 1974.

He also served as Editor-In-Chief of AFTL’s Academy Press directing the publication of the first Official Handbook of the Academy of Florida Lawyers, “Trial Advocacy.” In the dedication of this AFTL publication, Professor Smiley wrote:

“Trial Lawyering is a special form of service to humanity. The implementation allows the weak to be strong…the vanquished to have hope… and the victims to be restored.
Trial Skills emerge through commitment to the most significant characteristic associated with the Trial Lawyer- a willingness to share. Please accept these contributions as a passing of the baton in the race for justice. May you go forward with diligence and heart, knowing that a precious legacy has been placed within your hand.”

Mickey has been recognized extensively for his outstanding work over his long career. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America honored Professor Smiley for “Outstanding Contributions to the Art of Trial Advocacy,” the Southern Trial Lawyers Association created the “Professor W. McKinley Smiley Jr. Lighthouse Award” annually recognized to “America’s Most Outstanding lawyer in the field of Academics, Legal Scholarship, Advocacy Teaching and Training.” In 1999, the Young Lawyers Section of the Florida Justice Association created the Mickey Smiley Award for the purpose of recognizing the Trial Lawyer who has “done the most to help Young Lawyers.” The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers honored W. McKinley “Mickey” Smiley, Jr. with the Perry Nichols Award, “…the highest honor the Academy bestows…”

Mickey’s very close friends offered these remarks on this sad occasion:

Professor William McKinley “Mickey” Smiley, my friend, mentor and comrade in arms for 46 years passed from this earth as he had lived with grace, courage and love for all of us. He was a true champion of the wrongfully injured victims of our world. Morituri te Salutamus!

Chris Searcy
FJA Past President


It would truly be the understatement of the century to say that the trial bar has suffered a great loss in the passing of “Mickey” Smiley. His early career as a courtroom warrior led him to become one of America’s legendary law professors in the area of the teaching of trial advocacy. He loved his career as a classroom teacher – especially the “mentoring” aspect of helping others to have significant and meaningful careers as lawyers, and is considered by many to be “the” pioneer in the teaching of trial advocacy to law students via mock trial competition.

He was always “there” for every FJA battle, including his strategic roles in the campaign to defeat Dempsey Barron and in the Amendment 10 campaign of 1988. He took such great pride in his daughters, Kathy and Kristy, who are both attorneys; and showed such a beautiful love and affection for his five grandchildren. He will be remembered most – at least by many of us – for being one of the most extraordinary “characters” in the history of the trial bar due to his creativity and imagination, and his abilities as a majestic and mesmerizing storyteller. We love you, Mickey Smiley. We will miss you!

John Romano
FJA Past President

Thank you, Mickey for sharing your knowledge, wisdom and deep commitment to Justice with the Florida Justice Association over many wonderful years. We have the baton and will run forward into the future.

Our sincerest condolences to the Smiley family.

We will share additional information on arrangements on our website and social media.

Debra Henley
FJA Executive Director

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One thought on “In Memoriam: W. McKinley Smiley, Jr.

  1. I am saddened to see that Professor Smiley has passed. I have so many fond memories from when I was his research assistant in law school. He was truly a great man. My condolences to his family.

    Like

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