About Clerk of Court

Ed Smith, Clerk of Court

Ed Smith was elected by the people of Montana, Clerk of the Supreme Court in 1988, and re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2012. He is the nineteenth person to hold the office since Montana was created in 1864.

Smith is a fourth generation Montanan, whose Irish great grandfather John Clancy came to Butte, Montana in 1876 to work in the mines.

Born on November 14, 1952, in Superior, Wisconsin, he is the son of the late Edwin A. Smith and Dorothy Clancy Smith.

Raised in Helena, Smith attended Saint Helena Grade School and Helena High School, graduating in 1971. A 1976 University of Montana graduate with a B. A. degree in History, he served as a teaching assistant to Montana Historian K. Ross Toole during his senior year.

Beginning in 1969 as a 16 year old high school sophomore, he began working in the Montana Senate, and this service continued through 1987, working 10 legislative sessions in both the House of the Senate.

As a freshman at the University of Montana, Smith was chosen reading clerk for the historic 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention. His participation and experience in the creation of this modern constitution helped form his core belief in the public's right to know and participate in their government, and sparked a lifelong interest in public policy.

In 1973 he was elected by the Montana House of Representatives to three terms as the Chief Clerk. At the age of 20, he became the youngest person in the history of the State of Montana to be chosen for this position. These remarkable four legislative sessions included the only annual legislative session in state's history and implementation of the new constitution.

Upon his recommendation in 1987, House Minority Leader John Vincent sponsored legislation to create the Legislative Reorganization and Improvement Commission to review the operation of the Montana Legislature. Smith served as a member of the commission, which resulted in significant reforms.

Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill appointed Smith the Chief Bill Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Smith worked in Washington D. C. from 1979 through 1982.

As Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court since January 2, 1989, Smith has served on the Montana Intermediate Court Study Committee and the Commission on Admissions, and is a member of the Commission on Technology. He is currently the chair of the Commission’s E-Filing and Remote Access Task Force.

Since 1989 he has been a member of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks (NCACC), serving as President of the NCACC during the 2003-2004 term. Smith has also been a member of the Conference's executive committee and has chaired the education committee. In 2011 Smith was awarded the prestigious J.O.Sentell Award by the NCACC for distinguished public service. Smith is also a member of the Montana Association of Clerks of District Court (MACDC).

Smith's civic membership includes past service as a trustee of the Lewis and Clark County Library Board and as a member of the Helena/Lewis and Clark County Historic Preservation Commission. In June 2008, Smith was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Montana Historical Society by Governor Brian Schweitzer and confirmed by the State Senate.