Claude Harlan Smart Jr.
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Claude Harlan Smart Jr.
Stockton - Claude Harlan Smart Jr. died peacefully in his sleep in Stockton, CA on November 11, 2020. He was 93. Claude was born in Tacoma, WA and raised in San Jose, California. The son of Claude Sr. and Alma Smart, he joined the US Army at the age of 17. Corporal Smart was proud to serve his country on the island of Hokkaido during the reconstruction of Japan at the end of World War II. He started college at San Jose State and would eventually earn a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950, then his law degree at UCB, Boalt Hall in 1953. He was senior partner and instrumental in building the prominence of the Stockton law firm, Kroloff, Belcher, Smart, Perry & Christopherson. He practiced over 50 years as a civil defense trial attorney traveling throughout the central valley with an expertise in medical malpractice. He served as national president of the Defense Research Institute and was co-founder of the round table in Washington DC for the American Board of Trial Advocates. Claude was named Lawyer of the Year in San Joaquin County and was honored with the prestigious Law Day Award in 2004. He served as Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and as Senior Warden for St. John's Episcopal Church in Stockton.
He was an excellent tennis player and won many doubles tournaments at his favorite place to relax the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. He was an avid bay area sports fan, a lifelong Cal Bears booster, and had an amazing ability to recall statistics, players, and teams in all sports. He traveled the world with his beloved wife Barbara of 58 years and many dear friends. He was loved by many and respected by all. He is survived by wife Barbara and daughters Suzanne Morris, Joan Gibson, and son Stephen Smart; and grandchildren Mathew, Sarah, Claudia, Tyler, and Chile; and great grandson Alexander. A private memorial service will be held.

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Published in The Record from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19, 2020.
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6 entries
December 6, 2020
I knew Claude Smart for over 40 years. I first met him as a young lawyer when I began private practice in Sacramento. Claude was a seasoned trial lawyer and we were always on opposite sides of the case, because he represented the defense. Most of our cases involved allegations of medical malpractice and were vigorously contested. Claude was a talented and highly competent trial lawyer and always conducted himself as a consummate gentleman, an attribute that was far too uncommon in this aspect of the legal profession. He was an attorney and person for whom I had the utmost respect on a professional and personal level. I will always remember him.
Dave Abbott
December 3, 2020
Claude was a great attorney and a man who had outstanding leadership skills. Any organization he became involved with ended up better after his tenure. He devoted a lot of his time to improving the lives and careers of those he worked for and with. He cherished the old-fashioned virtues of duty, responsibility and compassion. He was a a great friend to so many. Making friends came easy for him. Being in his company was always a pleasure. He and his wife Barbara made a great team. I will miss him for the rest of my life.
David B. Lynch
December 2, 2020
Virginia and I only saw Claude once a year, at our favorite place to relax the Mauna Kea beach hotel. We played doubles tennis with him every year for what seemed like many years. What a good sport, fun opponent, and nice all around guy. We have good memories of him.
dan and virginia bacalski
December 1, 2020
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Richard E Crow
December 1, 2020
I had one of my first depositions with Claude in 1987. I found him to be an excellent lawyer and extraordinary gentleman, something many strive for but few achieve. I enjoyed speaking with him at the ABOTA meetings. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Glenn Guenard
November 19, 2020
My deepest condolences to Barbara & family. As an attorney and later on the bench, it was always a pleasure to be in the company of Claude Smart. He was the model of a consummate attorney: personable, practiced law with the highest ethical standards, a strong advocate, always respected opposing counsel, witnesses, court staff & the bench.
Claude was a SJC Bar Assoc’s Law Day recipient bc he served the legal community in many capacities & did it well. He had the respect of his peers & of the judges on the bench.
Claude was a true gentleman of the law, the likes of his kind will be sorely missed.
Frank Kim, (ret. Judge)
Frank Kim
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