Chat With A Lawyer: Judge Arthur Burnett Sr. and Community and Father Advocate David W. Smith Sr on Shared Parenting in the Maryland Custody Process


Meet Judge Arthur Burnett, Sr.

Judge Arthur Louis Burnett, Sr. is a historical figure who has long been a champion for equal rights for African Americans and the poor.  During college and law school, he was an supporter of abolishing segregation in schools and in public life.  He continued to promote equal rights during his 55 years as a lawyer, 40 of which he served as a judge.

Born in 1935 in Sportsylvania County, VA, Judge Burnett attended Summit Elementary, John H. Wright High School, Howard University, Summers College, and New York University Law School.

Between 1953 and 1954, Judge Burnett promoted his message of equality for all on the radio with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. From 1961 to 1964, he worked in the Department of Justice with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to promote equality and fairness in our criminal justice system.  In 1968, he served as legal advisor to the Metropolitan Police Department in the District of Columbia to ensure they complied with the law and respected the rights of people of color.

When Judge Burnett became the first African-American to hold the position of United States Magistrate Judge in 1969, he worked to reform bail practices and preliminary hearings and to promote judicial education to bring about equality in the treatment to all persons appearing in the federal court system.   He went on to become a general jurisdiction court judge and set an example of model court operation in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for 17 years.

Judge Burnett is currently the national executive director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc. (NAADPC). One of the many objectives of the NAADPC is to restore equity to the criminal justice system by addressing the disproportional adverse effect of drug law enforcement on people of color and the poor.


Meet David W. Smith, Sr.

David W. Smith Sr. is an active father and parent plus an advocate and community leader.

Mr. Smith works within our Prince George’s County Public School System.  Besides working with children, Mr. Smith works with parents to support parental involvement and engagement plus works with the fatherhood leadership team to support fathers and male involvement and engagement as well.

Mr. Smith is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Children’s Rights Fund ( which he advocates for children’s rights, parental rights, shared parenting & co-parenting and healthy family relationship. Mr. Smith assist and works with children and families who are going through divorce and separation to help children and parents maintain an ongoing relationship with each other after divorce and separation.

Mr. Smith also works tirelessly in the Maryland Legislature and around the State of Maryland to help bring about reform that’s supportive to children and families.

Mr. Smith is also the Vice President of the 100 Fathers, Inc. which he advocates and educates on the importance of fatherhood and male involvement in the home, schools, community, etc.

Mr. Smith is all about civil and social justice, equality and change. Mr. Smith is about bettering the lives of children and families plus strengthening the community.

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