Charisa Kiyô Smith joined CUNY School of Law in fall 2017 as a Visiting Assistant Professor and will begin as Associate Professor in fall 2018.  Previously, Professor Smith was the William Hastie Fellow at Wisconsin Law School, where she received an LL.M., taught Introduction to Juvenile Justice, and lectured in the Family Court seminar.  A graduate of Yale Law School and Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, Professor Smith teaches courses including Domestic Relations and the interdisciplinary, intersectional Family Law Practice Clinic.  Her scholarship investigates themes such as personal capacity for decision-making and care-giving, moral and legal responsibility, harm, and remedy.  

Focusing on two broad areas—the criminalization of youth behavior and the threat to parental rights among those with mental disabilities—Professor Smith has published widely, including in the Miami Law Review, Stanford Law & Policy Review, Law & Psychology Review, Charlotte Law Review, Quinnipiac Health Law Journal, and the Journal of Applied Research on Children.  Her work has been cited by courts, government agencies, and advocates. Notably, Professor Smith’s article  Unfit Through Unfairness: The Termination of Parental Rights Due to a Parent’s Mental Challenges  (2014) was cited in:  In re HICKS  (2016); the persuading Amicus Brief of the National Association for Children in  In Re Hicks/Brown MINORS  (2016); and the persuading Amicus Brief of Disabled Parents Rights in  Watley v. Katz  (2016).

Professor Smith’s commitment to teaching and transformation stems from wide-ranging experience in legal practice, human rights work, and public service.  She has represented children and families in criminal and civil matters, with expertise in Alternative Dispute Resolution including court mediation and restorative justice.  She served as a Staff Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. and at the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia.  Professor Smith’s work for women's rights organizations in Latin America and with sexually exploited youth in the Dominican Republic and New York City further inspires her to foster community empowerment, youth agency, and self-determination.  She integrates legal theories including critical race feminism and vulnerability studies, while engaging new legal realism.

Continuing her study of Zen Buddhism for over ten years, Professor Smith encourages mindful lawyering and balance in legal education.  She is the recipient of numerous distinctions including the Arthur Liman Public Interest Law Fellowship, the Schell International Human Rights Fellowship, the Michael Rockefeller Fellowship, and the Harvard History Essay Prize.  In 2010, Professor Smith’s book Blending Colors From Life: Trenton's Own Watercolorist, Tom Malloy won an Honorable Mention at the NY Book Festival as the captivating biography of an African-American artist and civic leader.  The book received research funding from institutions including the New Jersey Historical Commission and Radcliffe College. 

Prior to entering academia, Charisa clerked for a leader in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and directed the intern community service program for the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.  She has taught courses on children’s rights, race and the urban education system, and professionalism at Brooklyn College and other undergraduate institutions.



Charisa Kiyô Smith

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