Stephen Wm. Smith

Position / Title: 
Non-Residential Fellow

Stephen Wm. Smith is a retired federal judge and was also the Director of Fourth Amendment & Open Courts at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. From 2004 to 2018 he served as a federal magistrate judge in Houston, Texas, where he authored several ground-breaking opinions of first impression on electronic surveillance. In 2005 he wrote one of the first opinions requiring a warrant for cell phone tracking, a position that the Supreme Court recently adopted in its landmark Fourth Amendment case, Carpenter v. U.S. In 2013 he wrote the first opinion on the FBI’s authority to remotely hack a computer --- a decision that led directly to a revision of the federal rules of criminal procedure governing remote access searches. Judge Smith has testified before Congress on reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and is currently an advisory member of the American Law Institute’s Project on the Principles of Policing. He frequently speaks and writes on the vital significance of public access to judicial records, especially those pertaining to investigative techniques. Prior to taking the bench he practiced labor and employment law at Fulbright & Jaworski for 25 years. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, and earned his BA in philosophy from Vanderbilt University.