Jason Smith was assigned as my public defender in a 2019 case where a Ferndale innkeeper falsely accused me of criminal trespass.
Initially, I was assigned Tom Lyden as PD. Mr. Lyden is the only PD on contract with Ferndale and has 13 years of experience handling over 2000 criminal defense cases, including trials and appeals. He immediately contacted me upon being assigned and told me he'd immediately submit requests for production (RFPs) that proved my innocence and would take my case to trial because he knew how to get evidence in front of a jury that would prove my innocence.
Unfortunately, he was then conflicted out, and I was assigned Jason Smith as PD and then had to battle both the court system and my own PD for months, until Patrick Lackey, Bellingham's supervising PD, stepped in and got the charges dropped, with prejudice.
After being assigned as PD, Jason Smith didn't contact me for 6 weeks, which deprived me of my right to a fair, speedy trial, requiring multiple trial extensions and delays while I was very ill from living in an environment saturated 24/7 with methamphetamine and other toxic substances.
He also repeatedly refused to submit the exact same RFPs that Tom Lyden was going to submit, and he refused to take my case to trial, which deprived me of my right to pursue evidence or defenses to prove my innocence and of my right to a fair, speedy trial.
He admitted in an email that he was treating me differently than every other defendant in our country by refusing to submit the RFPs: "Typically, asking the judge to sign off on a court order for the production of evidence is a formality, as courts don’t generally want to prevent someone charged with a crime from pursuing evidence or defenses. Your situation is different, however. The prosecutor is none too pleased with the expenditure of city and court resources to pursue the charges filed against you."
To which I responded: "Oh, cry me a river. What law, exactly, says a defendant has to forfeit their rights to pursue evidence or defenses because the PA is displeased with expenses in their case? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? Whose side are you on, anyway?"
Jason Smith gave me no time to review drafts of RFPs and other court documents riddled with errors and strange, inappropriate requests (like asking for testimony from the innkeeper that would normally be obtained at trial) before submitting them at the last minute to the court, which compounded the issues and repeatedly revealed his ignorance of the law.
He never admitted he repeatedly refused to pursue a far more experienced and successful PD's legal strategy, which included submitting RFPs for evidence that would conclusively prove my innocence and taking my case to trial.
He never apologized for unnecessarily putting me through hell for months, which resulted in loss of clients, income, health, and housing. (I lived and worked in my car for 3 months right after COVID-19 hit.)
I work with attorneys for a living so I've seen a wide range of competence, diligence, intelligence, and integrity in the legal world. In my opinion and in my experience with him, and based on his own words and actions, Jason Smith does not possess these qualities in any measurable degree.