Stephen Smith has been a trial lawyer for 20 years with a statewide practice in criminal defense, personal injury and family law. He founded Smith Law Offices 18 years ago in Bangor, Maine, and since then he has represented thousands of clients statewide. With well over 100 serious jury trials and countless bench trials under his belt, Steve fully enjoys being in the fray. Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and federal and state courts. Stephen has also been a longtime member of the Bar of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Tribal Courts and once acted as the Penobscot Tribe’s child protective attorney general.
Steve has received the highest “AV Preeminent” and “Client Champion” ratings by Martindale-Hubbell, the well-known lawyer rating agency.
Steve brings a businesslike approach to his litigation practice. While always willing to listen to reason, his aggressive court room practice and willingness to go to trial account for his success. Steve assists clients in divorce and custody cases, homicides, sex crimes, domestic violence, abuse and drug-related charges.
Steve is not afraid to represent controversial clients. Whether murder, manslaughter, sexual misconduct or “shaken-baby” cases, Steve believes all defendants are entitled to a world-class defense. Early in his career, Steve took a special interest in sex crime defense and has developed significant expertise and experience in all manner of sexual assault and child molestation cases. Steve’s expertise in sex crime defense has resulted in his being a lecturer at trainings for other lawyers on the subject.
Steve practices extensively in federal courts. His federal practice includes matters such as heavy-duty drug trafficking, child pornography, bank robbery and exotic wildlife cases, as well as personal injury cases.
Steve was involved as lead counsel for the defense in only the second federal prosecution in the United States for the importation of whale tusks of the rare Narwhal whale. In defending the Narwhal case, Steve developed significant expertise in the Endangered Species Act and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). He has dealt extensively with the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division.
As a business owner and developer of real estate and restaurants, Steve understands small business opportunities and pitfalls. His expertise in high stakes, high conflict and high dollar divorces is much sought after.
Steve is well versed in the issues confronting the families of today and he practices family law from the perspective that children need to be sheltered from the conflict inherent in divorce and separation. Child custody fights bring out the worst in some parents and if a reasonable approach won’t bring the offending parent around, Stephen is well skilled and experienced in “going to the mat.” Given the use of sexual allegations in family law matters and protection orders, Steve is uniquely qualified to handle the complex interactions between family and criminal law.
Steve is a member of the American Academy of Certified Financial Litigators and after extensive study and testing, has been awarded the Certified Financial Litigator qualification. The CFL designation is awarded by the American Academy of Certified Financial Litigators to attorneys who have taken advanced coursework in the financial aspects of family law litigation and demonstrated their proficiency in this area by passing the CFL Exam. This exclusive group of practitioners are members in good standing of the Academy and have shown a dedication to achieving optimal financial results for their clients, making credible representations in court and helping their clients through the latest financial strategies.
Knowing that sound financial strategies combined with legal skills can make a significant difference in the financial outcome of a case, CFLs have demonstrated superior skills in a wide range of topics to effectively handle the financial aspects of cases including but not limited to taxation, tax strategies, property division strategies, income analysis for support purposes, business valuation methodology, Investment account analysis, financial statement analysis and efficient ways to analyze and approach these areas.
Steve had the unique experience in his formative years as a lawyer fighting in courtrooms across the state. While perhaps best known for his reputation in the family and criminal realms, Steve has been very busy over the years with his extensive personal injury practice. He has sued the Coast Guard under the Federal Tort Claims Act, big box stores for negligence, and negligent drivers who caused catastrophic injuries to other drivers, bicyclists and motorcycle riders. Steve and his team of support staff take care of each and every client with the care they would expect as if the client was family.
His non-legal background includes a military career in the U.S. Army. After beginning as an infantryman in the 3rd Ranger Battalion he served as a machine gunner in Desert Storm. After leaving active service, he joined the Maine Army National Guard where he served as a sniper team leader in the Mountain Infantry. Following his infantry service as an NCO, Steve became one of the first direct commissioned officers in the Guard, beginning his career as an officer as an engineer platoon leader. Shortly after graduating law school, he was direct commissioned as a Judge Advocate General officer. Following the attacks of 9/11, Steve was asked to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as a military prosecutor. Steve’s deployment lasted 18 months and upon his return he saw his 3rd child for the first time. Steve retired from the army after 21 years of service. His legal expertise and long association with the military has made him an expert resource for other attorneys in issues pertaining to military divorces and pensions.
Steve has played a significant role in the revitalization of downtown Bangor; he started the New Year’s Ball Drop in the downtown area, rehabilitated three historical commercial buildings in a once blighted area and developed two successful restaurants. He runs a diversified family farm with his wife, three sons and daughter.
Education: B.S. in International Relations, University of Maine; University of Kharkov in Kharkov, Ukraine; J.D., University of Maine School of Law
Member: Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Maine State Bar Association; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Board of Governors of the Maine State Bar Association; Maine State Bar Association Family Law Section; Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Lowd v. Dimoulos, 2005 ME 19, 866 A.2d 867 (Me. 2005)
State v. Mann, 2005 ME 25, 868 A.2d 183 (Me. 2005)
In re Sarah C., 2040 ME 152, 864 A.2d 162 (Me. 2004)
State v. Millay, 2004 ME 152, 787 A.2d 129 (Me. 2001)
State v. Griffin, 814 A.2d 1003 (Me. 2003)
State v. Connelly, Pen-CR-98-274
Monahan v. Monahan, 2015 ME 65
State v. Cote, 2015 ME 78
USA v. Hawkins, 279 F.3d 83 (1st Cir. 2002)
USA v. Gamache, 14-1546, ____ F.3d ____ (1st Cir. 2015)
Recent Cases in the News...
Man accused of pirating, selling videos faces new mail fraud charge.
The man accused of illegally copying and selling pirated movies for years faces more prison time after he was indicted Wednesday on an additional charge of mail fraud.
Douglas Gordon, 51, who previously lived in Brewer but now resides in Mattawamkeag, is scheduled to be arraigned April 29 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Fairfield man killed, buried wife nearly a month ago, prosecutor says
Luc Tieman shot Valerie Tieman five days before the date when he claimed she disappeared from a Wal-Mart parking lot, says the assistant attorney general who is prosecuting him.
SKOWHEGAN (9/24/16) — Luc Tieman of Fairfield shot his wife twice in the head nearly one month ago and then partially buried her body, a prosecutor said Friday.
It was the first time authorities have said when they believe 34-year-old Valerie Tieman was killed — Aug. 25 — and it provides a clearer picture of the case’s timeline in the weeks before she was first reported missing by her parents.
Justin Pillsbury sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing Jillian Jones in Augusta
Pillsbury, 41, apologized to Jones' family during a hearing Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center, saying he made a 'tragic mistake' the night he stabbed the 24-year-old a dozen times
AUGUSTA (7/21/16) — The man who killed Jillian T. Jones by stabbing her 12 times — twice through the neck — will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Justin Pillsbury, now 41, formerly of Augusta and Benton, was sentenced Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center to 50 years in prison in connection with the murder of his girlfriend, Jones, on Nov. 13, 2013. He was convicted March 17 in the same courthouse.
Jury finds Jesse Marquis guilty of killing St. Francis woman in 2014
CARIBOU (6/17/16) — An Aroostook County Superior Court jury deliberated for just over an hour Friday before finding Jesse Marquis guilty of the 2014 murder of Amy Theriault, a 31-year-old mother of two, in her St. Francis home.
The jury concluded Marquis shot and stabbed Theriault in her bedroom during the early morning hours of May 31, 2014.
No new trial for Justin Pillsbury, convicted of murdering Jillian Jones in Augusta
A judge on Tuesday rejected a defense motion for a new trial and set the sentencing date for July 21.
AUGUSTA (5/10/16) — Justin Pillsbury, convicted in March of murdering Jillian T. Jones in November 2013 in Augusta, will not get a new trial.
Justice Michaela Murphy denied a defense motion for a new trial, rejecting two grounds following brief oral arguments Tuesday afternoon at the Capital Judicial Center. Murphy also presided at the trial, which ended with a guilty verdict on March 17, 2016.
Jason Cote’s lawyers file motion to withdraw from case
Stephen Smith and Caleb Gannon, who appealed Cote's 45-year conviction for killing Ricky Cole of Detroit, ask to be released, and police say nothing has come of Cote's 'ramblings' about the disappearance of Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds.
(4/22/16) — The two attorneys representing Jason Cote, who was convicted in December of beating a Detroit man to death in 2013, have asked to withdraw from the case.
Court-appointed attorneys Stephen Smith, the lead defense lawyer in the case, and Caleb Gannon filed a motion April 13 to withdraw, even as an appeal of Cote’s conviction awaits action before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Smith, of Lipman & Katz of Augusta, wouldn’t comment Thursday on why they are withdrawing.
Killer’s attorney claims racial comment prejudiced jury in Augusta trial
Stephen Smith says the prosecutor's description of Justin Pillsbury as a 'green-eyed monster' was prejudicial.
AUGUSTA (3/31/16) — An attorney for convicted murderer Justin Pillsbury has filed a motion seeking a new trial, alleging that the prosecutor’s description of Pillsbury as a “green-eyed monster” had racial connotations that prejudiced the jury in his trial last month.
The prosecutor, meanwhile, said he was referring to jealousy, not race, with that comment, and that the issue had been raised and rejected by the court during the trial. Pillsbury was found guilty of stabbing his girlfriend, Jillian T. Jones, to death in Augusta in November 2013. Read the article on pressherald.com.
Attorney for Justin Pillsbury, convicted of Augusta murder, files for new trial
AUGUSTA (3/31/2016) — An attorney [Stephen Smith] for Justin Pillsbury, who was convicted of murder earlier this month in the stabbing death of Jillian T. Jones in Augusta, has filed a motion seeking a new trial, alleging the prosecutor’s description of Pillsbury as “a green-eyed monster” during the trial had racial connotations that prejudiced the jury.
The prosecutor, meanwhile, said he was referring to jealousy, not race, with that comment, and that the issue raised in the motion was already raised and rejected by the court during the trial. Read the article on centralmaine.com.
Augusta murder suspect Damik Davis pleads not guilty
AUGUSTA (2/25/16) — The first man arrested and charged with murder in connection with the November beating death of 31-year-old Joseph Marceau of Augusta formally pleaded not guilty Thursday in a brief arraignment at the Capital Judicial Center.
Damik Davis, 25, of Queens, New York, is charged with murder in three separate forms — intentional or knowing or depraved indifference — as well as felony murder, murder and robbery related to Marceau’s death Nov. 23, 2015, in a Washington Street apartment building. Read the article on centralmaine.com.
Cote sentenced to 45 years for Ricky Cole murder
SKOWHEGAN (2/12/16) — Convicted murderer Jason Cote apologized to his family and that of his victim Friday when he was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the 2013 murder of Ricky Cole.
Cote then referenced the unrelated case of missing Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds.
Cote, 25, of Palmyra, faced 25 years to life after he was convicted in December by a Somerset County Superior Court jury of beating Cole, 47, to death July 17, 2013, in Cole’s mobile home on Main Street in Detroit. Read the article on centralmaine.com.
- Steve Smith was recently elected to the Town of Whitefield’s representative to the RSU #12 School Board.
- After a 3-day trial, Steve won a significant victory in Androscoggin County. Steve’s client was charged with 10 counts of gross sexual assault against a minor under 12. Before trial began, the State dismissed four of the counts. After testimony, the jury was out over the span of two days and ultimately hung. While the State has the option of retrying the case, it appears the jury was evenly split in facts which surprised the State. Steve’s cross-examination brought out facts which significantly undercut the State’s case.
- Steve Smith was able to turn a protection order accusing his client of being neglectful to her children to her advantage in a surprising turn which resulted in the dismissal of the protection order and the entry of a final and advantageous parental rights order in Belfast District Court.
- Steve recently handled a divorce trial in Cumberland County in which both parties made significant allegations of alcohol abuse and poor judgment. Husband wanted to take the parties’ minor children to Bangor from their Cumberland County home and live there with his new girlfriend. After significant contentious testimony, Steve was able to neutralize the alcohol issue and demonstrated to the Court that moving the children over two hours away from their mother would not be in the children’s best interests. Steve’s client obtained a significantly better result after the trial than she was willing to negotiate at a settlement. She even obtained sole decision-making power over the location the children would attend school!