Open-Handed Greetings | Judge Lane Smith

Open-Handed Greetings | Judge Lane Smith

I talk to students about what judges do and the rule of law. Sometimes, we talk about American history and their questions can range from whimsical to probing. 

Q. Judge Smith, why do the people in England drive on the other side of the road. Clay (a fourth-grade student).

A. During the Middle Ages, most people rarely traveled any distance from where they were born. Most of them lived, worked, and died within a few miles of their birthplace.

Roadways started as footpaths between villages, and robbers often preyed on travelers when they reached isolated areas. Guns did not yet exist, and people defended themselves using knives or swords in hand-to-hand combat.  

Most humans are right-handed, and the people who traveled these paths wanted to free up their dominant hands to fend off criminals approaching from the opposite direction. They accomplished this by walking on the lefthand side of the roadway.

This tradition stuck after horses, and then cars became the standard modes of travel. Thus, in England, drivers still travel in the left lane toward their desired direction.

Many of our traditions arose from safety concerns. Over time, men habitually greeted one another by shaking their right hands. Doing this assured both greeters of the other’s good intentions–that neither was about to knife the other! Likewise, people waved hello by showing open-palmed hands to demonstrate they were not holding weapons, ready to strike.


Q. Judge Smith, how come so many Civil War soldiers had beards, mustaches, and long sideburns? Tom (eighth-grade student).

A. Most nineteenth-century soldiers had facial hair, and few were clean-shaven. Back then, not shaving made sense for three reasons.

Many could not afford razor blades and shaving cream. Others lacked mirrors, and it was harder to shave with straight blades if they couldn’t see their faces. Also, before antibiotics, shaving was dangerous due to the risk that cuts would become infected. Many soldiers decided it was better to be hairy than infected or dead.


Q. Judge Smith, have you ever sentenced anyone to death, and do you think the death sentence is justified? Mattie (a high school senior).

A. Death penalty cases are complex and require special training for judges and trial lawyers. I completed four days of death penalty training in May.

I have not sentenced anyone to death. If I must make that call, I will follow the law, assured that the appellate courts will review my work.

Judges do not make public policy, and they should not try to steer it. Thus, it is not up to me to justify the death penalty. Look instead to the Florida legislature and Congress.

If you have strong feelings about the death penalty, inform yourself, speak up, and vote.

The Honorable J. Layne Smith is a Circuit Judge, bestselling author, and public speaker. Send your questions to

10 Responses to "Open-Handed Greetings | Judge Lane Smith"

  1. I’ve actually thought a lot about the poor choices presented to the minority population of clear and reasonable citizens (the conservatives) time and time again.
    Keeping in mind odds are we will have a conservative government at some point in the future. However none of us will be alive 157 years from now to see it.
    That is the reality and background of my voting plan going forward.

    The Plan:
    Pick out the 2 front runners and out of those 2 you shall think long and hard, do your research, and determine which of the 2 front runners is the stupidest.
    Then thats it! You must vote for the most stupid of the 2 front runners.

    “Why Snidely you are asking should we not vote for the smartest of those 2??? Thats just against all logic.”

    Let me explain the logic using Daily and Dozier.
    1. You will never live long enough to vote for a conservative so just forget that right now.
    2. You know both of the front runners are corrupt. Come on be honest with yourself you know this.
    3. Voting for the stupid one gives us the chance of some random Federal investigation scooping the stupid one up in an investigation not necessarly even related to the stupidest one.

    So heres how I will vote for Mayor:
    Daily is too smart to get caught and I have already identified Dozier as being the stupidest of the 2 and most likely to get caught doing something against the law.
    So therefore I shall cast my vote for Dozier and pat myself on the back when the next developer gives her another new more expensive house for a political/business inappropiate business deal. And she gets busted.
    Yep using my great plan of logic I suggest we all vote Dozier For Mayor.

    ps its a shame it has come to this, but think about it, if you are a true conservative and dont want to just throw away your vote on some clown who wont win – or even worse just dont vote at all for Mayor – Snidely’s Plan Of Action is all that makes sense.
    Vote Dozier.

  2. Is Smith up for reappointment or something?

    @ Hope, there is not a spit’s difference between Dailey(fsu, ghazvini)and Dozier (mad dog, gateway center).

    Why do we always get such poor choices? Is it because we are touted as one of the most highly educated metro areas in the state but the reality is the voting populace are actually ignorant?

  3. Breaking news…

    The $27 million giveaway Mayor Dailey snapped yesterday when he filed an election”s complaint against his opponent. The same mayor who runs the city around his bundled campaign contribution contributors and who along with his wife put their thumbs on the scale for the choice for the CSC director’s position.

    The mayor is out of carrots and out of sticks… his publicity stunts have been exposed and fizzled. What do you expect when you choose an out of town campaign manager who was associated with one of the largest corruption schemes in Tallahassee’s history? Ditto for Bellamy on that one.

    Campaign rule number one: the candidate himself never files a complaint against the opponent. Why? That is the ultimate act of desperation. What was he thinking, oh that’s right, he wasn’t.

  4. @ Barb:
    Totally agree Judge Smith is a total leftist tool hiding behind that honorable black robe.
    I do not feel a need to clean it up [or more appropriatly to “turd polish”] in the case of The Dishonorable Judge Smith and others of his political side of injustice.

  5. “Judges do not make public policy, and they should not try to steer it.”

    And yet, Judge J. Layne Smith, rejected the congressional redistricting map passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Smith ordered a new map and the Appeals Court stopped his order. He then issued a temporary injunction to get around the Appeals Court ruling. The Appeals Court ruled his injunction was inappropriate and reinstated the congressional map signed by the Governor. (I’m not a lawyer, this is all according to news reports, you can look it up for yourself.)

    So, my question is:

    Why is it that when the Governor and the majority in the Legislature are Democrat they are allowed to govern as they see fit, but when the Governor and the majority in the Legislature are Republican, left leaning judges think they should be able to make public policy and try to steer it?

  6. @ Rosemary…

    The out of town witness was unreachable and dodging the subpoena to appear for the deposition. The attorney said he “called” the witness over the phone yet could not produce any documentation or transcript noting such.

    The attorney (rightfully) kept delaying the case to get the deposition. To the detriment of the client the attorney lied about doing a (phone) deposition.

    The attorney did not notice it or appear.

    How can you bill a client for something that was not done? He committed fraud and malpractice.

  7. Your honor, why are there so many lawyers making so much money filing injury suits and why isn’t there some way to punish the lawyers that file these bad suits?

  8. If the attorney properly noticed the deposition and appeared for the deposition, then the attorney could reasonably charge for their time for travel to the deposition and waiting to see if deponent were just running late (assuming the deponent or their attorney had not given notice to the attorney that they wouldn’t be there). And the attorney will still owe the court reporter and is entitled to bill the client for that too.

  9. @ Your Honor Judge Smith,

    What would be the ramifications if a defense attorney told his client he did a deposition for a witness, billed the client for the deposition, yet in actuality the attorney did not do the deposition?

    It turns out the out of town witness was dodging the subpoenas to appear for the deposition because he had been arrested for numerous crimes. A whistleblower had blown the whistle on several elected officials for misuse of office and misusing money, so two criminals were used to make a baseless allegation Against The Whistleblower.

    It was totally baseless and false yet it managed to make it through the State Attorney’s office for serious charges. It was important that they get the deposition from the out of town witness-criminal they were using as their witness.

    A complaint was sent to the Florida Bar and the Florida Bar attorney who was addressing the complaint saying he did not do the deposition and billing for it was” held up” because the attorney was running for a judge.

    The attorney ended up being elected to the Judge position and is now retired. The Judge on the bench failed to catch the shenanigans that were really driving the case and he is now retired, thankfully.

    So the question is, is it wrong for an attorney to say they did a deposition when he did not, and bill the client for doing a deposition?

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