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Meet "Dean Of The Defense Bar" Wade Smith

Attorney Wade Smith
Tharrington Smith

As a young boy in Stanly County, North Carolina, Wade Smith did not know what he wanted to be when he grew up; he knew only that he had a deep desire to do something "good and useful." 

The grandson of a Baptist preacher, Smith thought this longing might be what those in Christian communities labeled "a calling." He was a star football player in high school and earned the prestigious Morehead Scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill. He went on to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, and after a clerkship with the state Supreme Court, he became a prosecutor. Smith soon switched to a private practice focused on criminal defense. His calling, he discovered, was to find the good in everyone—even society's worst criminal offenders. With more than five decades of legal practice under his belt, including several high-profile cases like the Fatal Vision killer and the Duke lacrosse defendants, Wade Smith earned the nickname "dean of the defense bar." Host Frank Stasio talks with Wade Smith about his life, career, politics and perspectives on the justice system. 

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Laura Lee was the managing editor of The State of Things until mid February 2017. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.