Otis M. Smith

Otis Milton Smith (1922–1994) was the first African American justice on the Michigan Supreme Court and the General Counsel for General Motors.[1]

Otis M. Smith
Otis M. Smith.png
214th Regent of the University of Michigan
In office
March 7, 1967 – 1970
Preceded byAllan R. Sorenson
78th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
In office
1961 – December 31, 1966
Appointed byJohn Swainson
Preceded byTalbot Smith
Succeeded byThomas E. Brennan
36th Michigan Auditor General
In office
October 21, 1959 – October 9, 1961
Preceded byWilliam R. Hart (acting)
Succeeded byWilliam A. Burgett (acting)
Personal details
Otis Milton Smith

(1922-02-20) February 20, 1922 (age 98)
Memphis, Tennessee
DiedJune 29, 1994(1994-06-29) (aged 72)

Smith graduated from law school at The Catholic University of America in 1950, where he was a member of the first volume of the school's Law Review.[2]

He then went to Flint, Michigan, where he engaged in private practice until 1957. At that time he was appointed to the Michigan Public Service Commission.[3]

From 1959 until 1961 Smith served as Michigan Auditor General.

He was appointed a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1961 by Governor John Swainson.[4] He lost a re-election bid in 1967, and was then hired by General Motors. He would rise to become vice-president and General Counsel. In 1968, Smith served as a presidential elector. In 1983, his portrait was dedicated at the Michigan Supreme Court.[5] A portrait also hangs in the admissions of The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.[6]

A scholarship in his name is administered by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. It is given to a single mother, and can be used for tuition at Wayne State University, any campus of the University of Michigan, or the law school at The Catholic University of America.[7]



  1. ^ The Political Graveyard: Smith, Otis Milton
  2. ^ He was the co-author of Illegal Delay and Confessions in State and Federal Courts - A Civilized Standard, 1 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1 (1950). The Catholic University Law Review gives an annual award in his honor to a staff member for excellence in contributing to the Law Review.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2008-03-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society: Otis Smith
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]
Political offices
Preceded by
William R. Hart
Michigan Auditor General
Succeeded by
William A. Burgett