Profile: traci.smith

Traci Smith is the Chief Public Defender for the Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office. She started her career as a deputy public defender in 1999. She became the Chief Deputy in 2003, and the Chief in 2005. With over fifteen years of trial experience and a staff of thirty two employees, her office is providing indigent defense in the largest county in the state in terms of population. She is a 2011 recipient of the Attorney of the Year award through Women in Law, and a published writer for the South Dakota Law Review, in The Outlier Case: Proportionality Review in State v. Rhines, 42 SDLR 192 (1997). She has been recognized for her volunteer contributions by the ABA Criminal Justice Section for the Juvenile Justice Collateral Consequences Project in 2012, and the 2012 publication of the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Prosecutions in South Dakota: A Guide for Criminal Defense Practitioners. Traci has been a speaker and presenter for numerous organizations, including SD Peace and Justice, the SD State Bar, and SD Trial Lawyers Association. She served as the Second Circuit Bar President from 2012-2013 and Secretary for the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers from 2009-2012. She is a graduate of the University of SD School of Law and SD State University, and alumna of Virginia Intermont College. When Traci isnít tethered to her cell phone, she enjoys spending time with her children at their sporting events and traveling to competitive softball tournaments. She currently resides in Sioux Falls South Dakota with her husband and their two children.




On March 18, 2017 - the 54th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainright decision - NAPD published its Foundational Principleswhich are recommended to NAPD members and other persons and organizations interested in advancing the cause of equal justice for accused persons.  


On March 2, 2017, NAPD released its Statement on Reducing Demand For Public Defense: Alternatives to Traditional Prosecution Can Reduce Defender Workload, Save Money, and Reduce RecidivismThere are more than 2 million people in jail and prison in the United States. This is a four-fold increase since 1980. This increase and the racial disproportionality among incarcerated people has led to alliances across the political spectrum to address the impact on people and on budgets.  As the new Coalition for Public Safety has put it, “Our country has an ‘overcriminalization’ problem and an ‘overincarceration’ problem — and it’s getting worse." NAPD authored this statement because there is a great opportunity to make transformative changes that can improve justice and save money.  A variety of organizations representing a wide spectrum of political views have joined together to end the systematic problem of overcriminalization and narrow the net of incarceration by reforming criminal codes.