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Judge Cooper presents life of Mendel L. Smith

Posted: October 15, 2013 5:30 p.m.
Updated: October 16, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Historical Society will host a special program on the life and career of Medel L. Smith (1870-1934), Camden attorney, Kershaw County legislator, Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives and 5th Judicial Circuit Judge. The public is invited to a presentation by G. Thomas Cooper Jr. on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the historic Mills Courthouse at 607 Broad St., in Camden.

Smith moved from Smithfield to Camden as a young child. A Camden attorney, he served four terms in the S.C. House before running unsuccessfully several times for governor. Smith served as an officer in World War I and returned to Camden to resume his legal career.

He was later appointed as an associate justice to the S.C. Supreme Court and was a highly acclaimed orator, giving an estimated 3,000 speeches to civic and fraternal groups. Cooper’s program will highlight the many high profile murder cases in which Smith was involved, including his defense of Edmond Bigham of Florence County who was tried for killing his entire family.

Cooper began his career practicing law with the late S.C. Governor John C. West. Cooper practiced law in Camden for 33 years before his election to the circuit court bench in 2000. He retired in early 2012. Cooper developed his interest in the person and career of Smith since he was also a circuit court judge and only the second at the time to come from Kershaw County.

For more information or to inquire about society membership, visit the Kershaw County Historical Society at www.kershawcoun tyhistoricalsociety.org or via phone at 425-1123. A wide variety of historical books and pamphlets are available for sale from the society’s office in the historic Bonds Conway cottage at 811 Fair St., in Camden, open Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

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