Chief Judge Lavenski Smith, Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Chief Judge Lavenski Smith 

Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Lavenski R. “Vence” Smith was born in October 1958 in Hope, Arkansas. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He worked in both private practice and public service. 

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appointed Smith to be an Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, where he was also Commissioner on the Arkansas Public Service Commission. He served as an assistant professor at John Brown University. He was Executive Director at the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit Christian public interest law firm. 

President George W. Bush nominated Smith to a seat on the bench of the Eight Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He was confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate and received his commission in July 2002. He became chief judge in March 2017. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts named Smith to serve as the chair of the Judicial Conference’s executive committee, effective in October 2022. 

In the News…

A three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals led by Chief Judge Lavenski Smith sent an Environmental Protection Agency rule back to the agency for reconsideration. The EPA rule placed a ban on Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide often used on crops like soybeans, broccoli, cauliflower, and some fruit trees. The insecticide was linked to brain damage in children and banned for use in growing food in 2021.

The Eighth Circuit panel found the EPA improperly rushed to meet a Ninth Circuit Court-imposed deadline to craft their rule. In their haste, the EPA ignored data it had that showed safe use of the pesticide. 

The Eighth Circuit wrote, “The agency might have needed to move more quickly than usual to confirm the safety findings and start the process of canceling and adjusting registrations within the Ninth Circuit’s deadline.” 

The court stated, “But those are matters of policy and practicality, not statutory authority. The point is that the EPA should not have reflexively rejected an approach it had the power to adopt, even if it would have required more work.” 

They added, “A partial ban was a real alternative for the EPA. It could have canceled some regulations and retained others that satisfied the statutory safety margin.” 

Returning the rule to the agency does not preclude the EPA from reinstating the ban in the future. 

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Judge Smith today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Lavenski R. Smith, Chief Judge
Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals 
Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse 
111 South 10th Street 
St. Louis, MO 63102 


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