John Smietanka

vCardIconSmJohn Smietanka focuses his more than 45 years of experience in law and government on helping clients in criminal defense, federal and state litigation, civil rights, complex business and commercial litigation, Constitutional issues, government agencies and programs, and local and state government issues.

Since entering private practice in 1995, John has used his grasp of the law and the state and federal justice systems—as well as his political and media skills—to successfully handle a myriad of legal matters.

John's career in private practice came on the heels of his successful work during 25 years in public law as a United States Attorney for the Western District in Michigan in Grand Rapids, a senior official in the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. and a county prosecuting attorney.

He was the principal attorney in several representative cases, including Souter v. Jones (2005, Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) and Michigan v. Payne (1973, U.S. Supreme Court).  In addition to his public and private practice, John has taught legal classes and seminars in the United States and Europe. He has been a professor every year since 2001 at the Czech-Slovak Legal Institute in the Czech Republic.

John has helped to improve the delivery of services to children throughout the country.  He is also known as “The Father of Weed and Seed” for developing that federal program while working with the US Attorney General at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.  Weed and Seed was a pioneering two-pronged effort to revitalize America’s neighborhoods.  At the same time, a neighborhood would work with the assistance of federal, state and local law enforcement to prevent, control and reduce crime, drug-abuse and violence, as well as the citizens’ oppression by organized gangs, (Weeding) and following that, promote the development of healthy, prosperous neighborhoods where the good citizens there are aided by schools, foundations, businesses, labor, churches and government at all levels in choosing and developing their own future (Seeding).  More than 250 Weed and Seed sites ranging in size from several neighborhood blocks to 15 square miles have been established under the program.

On the political side, John has been active in politics and was nominated twice by the state Republican Party for the elected position of Michigan Attorney General.


Radio Program:

Listen to John Smietanka's weekly radio program originating in Michigan’s Great Southwest, With Respect. It is a discussion program with respect for the guests and the listeners, on Sundays at 11:00 AM and Thursdays at 10:00 AM on WRHC 106.7 FM and WRHZ 93.5 FM, (streamed at those times on and on Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 AM on WSJM 94.9 FM (streamed at those times on 

Click here for a list of, and to to listen to, podcasts of John's weekly radio program, With Respect.




Actual Innocence

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Business Planning

Civil Litigation

Criminal Defense

Real Estate



Bar Admissions:

State Bar of Illinois, 1969

State Bar of Michigan, 1969


Court Admissions:

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 1969

U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 1973

Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals, 1979

U.S. Supreme Court, 1973




John Marshall Law School
Chicago, Ill.
J.D., 1968


Our Lady of the Snows, Oblate Fathers' Scholasticate
Pass Christian, Miss. 
B.A., major in Philosophy, 1964.



Awards and Honors:  

Recognized as a "Lawyer of the Year" for 2005 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly for his exemplary efforts to free a wrongly convicted man from prison, 2006

United States Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service, January 1993

United States Attorney General's Award for Outstanding Service as United States Attorney, 1989

The John Marshall Law School Distinguished Alumnus, 1986

Martindale Hubbell rating – AV Preeminent for high ethics and professionalism


Professional Affiliations:

American Bar Association

Special Committee on the Prosecution Function, member

State Bar of Michigan:

Special Committee on Trial Advocacy Certification, member

Special Committee on Specialization of Law Practice, member

Special Committee on Revising the Michigan Criminal Code, member

Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics, member

Committee on Establishing a Law Office, memberCommittee on the United States Courts, member

Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan:

President, 1980-1981

Board of Directors, member: 1974-1994

United States Department of Justice:

U.S. Attorney General's Advisory Committee on United States Attorneys, member, 1982-1984 and 1993; vice chairman, 1983

U.S. Attorney General's Management Information Project (Project EAGLE), member, steering committee

U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Compensation, member

Michigan Government:

Michigan Environmental Review Board, member, 1979-1981

Republican Party:

Michigan Republican State Central Committee, member, 1977-1981

Community Participation:

Committee for a World Class Community (CWCC), Benton Harbor-Saint Joseph, Michigan, member of executive committee and Government Domain leader, 2001-2004.

Lincoln Township Public Library Board, member

Citizens Mediation Service Board, member

Berrien Artists’ Guild Board, member




Child Sexual Abuse
John A. Smietanka
Michigan Bar Journal, June 1988 

Bill of Rights Speech
Delivered by John Smietanka
Lake Superior State University
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
February 1993


 Michigan Restaurant Owner is No Terrorist, Chicago Sun-times

The Wasteful Case Against Ibrahim Parlak, The New Yorker