Hon. Rebecca Beach Smith See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
E.D.Va.  
Average Rating:3.6 - 18 rating(s)
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Ratings

*Temperament:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Scholarship:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Industriousness:   (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
*Ability to Handle Complex Litigation:    (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Punctuality:    (1=Chronic`y Late,10=Always on Time)
*Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation:    (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
*Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation:   (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Flexibility In Scheduling   (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Pre-Trial:   (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Civil Settlement Discussions:   (1=Least Involved,10=Most Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Trial:    (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Sentencing:    (1=Most Lenient,10=Most Harsh)
Typical Discount Off Guidelines for Cooperators:    (1=10%,10=100%)
  Items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating
Comments



What others have said about Hon. Rebecca Beach Smith


Comments


Other

Comment #: 20909
Rating:1.0
Comments:
I had only ever heard the rumors over the years about how rude, inconsiderate and crazy this judge is. It's obvious, given her ratings here, that I'm not the only one here who is aware of this. The old saying "absolute power corrupts absolutely" definitely applies in this case.

Other

Comment #: 20798
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Very thorough, prepared, professional, knowledgeable, considerate, impartial, wise, and fair.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 18926
Rating:3.0
Comments:
Judge Smith is the worst judge I have appeared before. Most judges try to get decisions right, but understand they can't always be right, and so they usually address counsel with some amount of courtesy. While this attitude is hard to bear when she is right about something, it is extremely difficult on those occasions when she is wrong. She shows no courtesy or respect for litigants or their counsel, and instead shows contempt and is downright mean on occasion. She is, as a number of posters have said, the poster child for why judges should not be appointed for life.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 13815
Rating:6.0
Comments:
She is tough and not the nicest, but I think she writes sound opinions and has a good grasp of the law.

Litigant

Comment #: 12978
Rating:1.0
Comments:
I have read the submitted comments about her as a judge and it is clear to me that she either does not read the actions submitted to her in civil actions or she does so in a hurry, while sitting in judgment of peoples lives, she is incredibly incompent.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 11807
Rating:1.8
Comments:
Some years ago I had a case before Judge Smith in which she conducted an evidentiary hearing on a pretrial motion. After 3 hours of testimony, she immediately simply read her opinion into the record, complete with citations. It was obvious that she had made up her mind before the first witness was sworn, and that her opnion had been drafted for her the night before. Win or lose, it was a disgrace that the evidence didn't matter to her decision.

She has no patience, and her judicial temperapment is non-exisitent.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 11559
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
I found Judge Smith to be a very fair and well-informed judge. She maintains firm control of her courtroom and expects a lot from the attorneys who practice in front of her, just a good judge should. I find the bulk of these comments to be inconsistent with what I experienced in her courtroom.

Prosecutor

Comment #: 8557
Rating:1.3
Comments:
This judge is utterly contemptible.

It's quite clear that she doesn't read the briefs, the cases, or even the memos written by her clerks before she happens to go up to the bench. I've had everything from motions practices to sentencing decisions in which there is nothing but quiet in the courtroom as she sits ups there forever, perusing the memo before her or the pre-sentencing report, clearly reading it for the first time right before she makes a major decision.

Look, I'm a prosecutor. Have been my whole life, will be til the day I die. It's all I ever wanted to do. I'm a rabid conservative on law and order and think til this day that the Warren Court is harming America by letting defendants off. But this judge's approach to the bench is morally disgusting and reprehensible.

I've with major criminal trials, again and again, in which she clearly is deciding whether to exclude evidence based on reading her clerk's memo during motions evidence and arguments. Sentencing that could put a human being behind bars for 15 years (and most of them deserve it, but SOME of them deserve something less), and she's reading a pre-sentencing report in the moment, as she decides how many months to sentence a real human being.

It's totally disgusting and morally bankrupt. She's a disgrace to the bench. She should be impeached.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 7486
Rating:2.3
Comments:
Judge Smith really should not be on the bench.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 6114
Rating:6.1
Comments:
A tough judge. Her opinions are well-written and sound. Not the most punctual.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5330
Rating:7.6
Comments:
Although I can understand the comments that Judge Smith can be tough in court, I do not understand the comments directed at her knowledge of the law. I have found her opinions to be well-written and legally sound, with excellent analysis. I have also found her to be particularly good in settlement conferences.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5071
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
She is simply horrible. Bossy, mean, inconsiderate, unintelligent, and unprepared are the words that come to mind. She wrote an opinion in a case that did not address the issues raised by either of the parties. I question whether she read the briefs. I am very glad that I don't appear before her on a daily basis. God help the prosecutors who have to deal with her. She is a walking argument against lifetime tenure.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 4921
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Came across this website by accident. Figured the ratings wouldn't be that accurate, but when I saw Judge Smith at #1 incompetent it gave the website all kinds of credibility. Is there a dumber judge in the entire federal judiciary? No. Maybe Judge Hilton is lazier and almost as dumb, but Judge Smith is the dumbest and meanest judge that probably ever was a federal judge. She is uniformly hated by the Bar. And they haven't been that quiet about it, either.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4040
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
In a competent court, the judge doesn't matter. All that matters are the law and the facts. In an incompetent court, no matter how strong your case is, you never know if you're going to win because the judge can get it wrong. Smith's court is the most incompetent I've ever been in. She rarely gets the law right or understands the facts. What's worst, though, is that she's more mean than she is incompetent. To truly know how horrible this woman is, you must talk to the courthouse employees. It would be one thing if she was merely a judge, with power only over those in her courtroom. But she is chief judge of Norfolk, with power over the entire courthouse. Every employee in that courthouse -- clerks, secretaries, marshals, security officers, etc -- live in complete terror of her. She ridicules, demeans, and beats up attorneys, but at least we are in and then out. The courthouse employees must live under her reign of terror every minute of their working lives. She makes their lives miserable.

Prosecutor

Comment #: 3918
Rating:1.0
Comments:
She is at least 15 minutes late each and every single day. I don't know what she's doing during trials, but she sure isn't paying attention to what's going on. The secretary keeps bringing her papers that she reads, signs, whatever. The lawyers see it, teh defendant sees it, the jury sees it. Complete and total insult to justice. She usually doesn't know what's going on. An attorney will object and she has no idea what is happening and so doesn't know how to rule. During sentencing, it's clear that she hasn't read the pre-sentence report until she's on the bench; she's up there reading while the attorneys are arguing or making their points. Think about it, a person is about to be sentenced to 5, 10, 20 years, and this selfish thing up on the bench is so devoid of an ethical bone in her body that she can't bother to read the report for even 10 minutes before she takes the bench.

The post that says you need to talk to courthouse employees is completely right. The employees there hate her, think she's a Nazi, wish she'd get hit by a bus. There's not a person in the courthouse who hasn't been berated or humiliated by her. Even the judges hate her and can't wait until her rule comes to an end. I hear it use to be a good place to work in, no one thinks that now.

She has no respect for anyone other than herself. She treats the courtroom as her kingdom rather than as a place where justice is suppose to be done. She should be impeached.

Prosecutor

Comment #: 3780
Rating:1.6
Comments:
Has no understanding of the relevant case law. Frequently misstates what is the applicable law. Has no knowledge of the facts of the case. Is ALWAYS late. Doesn't pay attention. Constantly disrupts courtroom by calling over clerks, secretary, etc. Mean, nasty, and unfair towards attorneys and even litigants. Has horrible reputation in the Norfolk area, and one well deserved. So mean, so nasty.