The Honorable Pamela L. Smith-Steward

Sacramento County Superior Court

Court Info

Sacramento County Superior Court, Department 34 (website)

Clerk phone: 916-874-5751

Courtroom Rules

Biography

Hon. Pamela L. Smith-Steward is a judge for the Superior Court of Sacramento County in California.

After a brief stint practicing municipal law with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Smith-Steward joined the state Department of Corrections as a staff counsel. Over a decade she worked her way up to the agency’s top legal position, chief counsel, where she oversaw lawsuits brought by both inmates and the public over prison issues. In 1999, Smith-Steward was hired by then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer at the Department of Justice, where she oversaw 500 lawyers in the civil law division as chief assistant attorney general. Three years later, Gov. Gray Davis tapped her for the Sacramento bench.

Per an interview in The Recorder (see link below), Judge Smith-Steward is known for her devotion to family, faith and ending the court day by 4:30 (“I’m pretty strict and everybody knows we end at 4:30”). One relevant anecdote from the same interview states that per Deputy District Attorney Allison Dunham, Hon. Smith-Steward as a calm, even-tempered judge with a well-known devotion to family, which includes three sons, as well as her faith. When presented with a case involving a man who broke into a house and molested an 11-year-old girl in her bedroom, Smith-Steward sentenced him to 30 years-to-life in state prison.

Education

  • J.D. from Harvard University (1985)
  • B.S. from University of California

Career

  • Judge at Superior Court of Sacramento County in Sacramento, CA (from 2002)
  • Chief assistant attorney general at Office of the Attorney General, State of California (1999 to 2002)
  • Chief counsel at California State Department of Corrections (1995 to 1999)
  • Staff Counsel at California State Department of Corrections (1989 to 1995)
  • Associate (Municipal Law) at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe