The Stover Constitutional Lecture took place April 4 at 7 p.m. inside Alumni Hall. The Honorable D. Brooks Smith, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, spoke to attendees about the importance of upholding and protecting the rule of law, exploring its history and sociopolitical implications.
“Chief Judge Smith will draw upon his unique background in the law to reflect upon the Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Dr. Lawrence Stratton, director of the Stover Center, said. “The opportunity to hear about his experiences and insights will be invaluable for the campus community.”
Smith became the Third Circuit chief judge in 2016 and has been serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals since 2002. Previously, Smith served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and on the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas of Blair County.
“The primary thing that I am looking forward to is just getting insight from what it is like to actually serve in that position,” T.J. DeNofrio, junior pre-law major, said. “I can only watch so many documentaries and only read so much about what judges do. Now, I actually get to sit there and hear [Smith] from his perspective, his experiences and all the wisdom he has got to collect over the years and then I get to take that all in and learn from it.”
The lecture was free to the public and contained a question and answer part at the end. For DeNofrio, the Q&A is his favorite part of the night.
“The most important thing I am looking forward to is the ability to ask questions,” he said. “Because, people need to go to these lectures and take advantage of the Q&As at the end because you can get some real opportunities to have some real interesting things answered if you just raise your hand and ask.”
Student’s get the opportunity to meet one of the premiere judges in America, Stratton said. He added Smith has a fascinating background as an attorney in private practice, a member of the legislative staff of the Pennsylvania Senate, a state prosecutor, a state judge, a federal prosecutor and now an appellate judge.
“He has had decades of legal experience and it was wonderful for the students to be able to meet with him and learn about his background and his legal vision,” Stratton said.
For DeNofrio, he enjoys having speakers like Smith on campus and knows not many universities bring in people like this. He said it inspires him to try and reach the level Smith is at in his career.
“If you can start to hear the voices and opinions of these people, then you’re more inclined to actually keep doing what you are doing,” DeNofrio said. “So, I think that it poses that benefit and then additionally I think it just helps in general make Waynesburg look good as a whole to have these kinds of people come out.”