B. Campbell Smoot of Tullahoma, public defender for the 14th Judicial District, was found dead early Tuesday in his Moore County home.
According to Mike Rainey with the Moore County Police Department, TBI will investigator Smoot’s death to determine that no foul play was involved.
The 14th Judicial District serves Coffee County.
Smoot, who served in the position for 25 years, was re-elected in May of this year. He ran unopposed.
Smoot, a native of McMinnville, served in the Army’s 11th Airborne Division following high school. He earned an undergraduate degree in forestry from Auburn University, worked as a licensed surveyor for several years, and enrolled in the University of Tennessee School of Law in Knoxville, graduating in 1972.
Smoot spent nearly two decades in private practice at Haynes, Hull, Smoot and Reider, a Tullahoma firm that specialized in insurance defense, although he did take on criminal cases from time to time.
After 18 years in private practice, the public defender conference was established and Smoot became the county’s first and only public defender.
In an article published in The News in July of this year, Smoot talked about his career as a public defender.
“We (public defenders) protect constitutional rights, which is of great interest to me,” Smoot said.
Smoot compared the responsibilities of a public defender to those of a physician faced with treating “an Al Capone type of guy.”
“You do your job and treat him,” he said. “It’s the same for us. All people are entitled to the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States.”
Last July, Smoot was named to a one-year term to the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) Board of Governors.
According to representatives at the Coffee County Election Commission, Gov. Bill Haslam will appointment someone to replace Smoot as public defender for the 14th Judicial District until the next election.
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Smoot were incomplete at press time.