Southeastern Oklahoma district attorney condemned for taking teaching job while in office

An outgoing district attorney was condemned Thursday by fellow prosecutors “for engaging in conduct not authorized by law” and for his “lack of candor and honesty” about it.

Paul Smith, the district attorney of Seminole, Hughes and Pontotoc counties, called the decision by the District Attorneys Council disappointing.

Smith, 62, came under fire for taking a second full-time job in August teaching at Holdenville High School even though he is still DA until January. He quit the teaching job after the online news site NonDoc reported about it.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

The District Attorneys Council voted 4-0 to condemn Smith, who apologized for taking the job but denied being dishonest.

“I regret that there was a tsunami of disapproval. I didn’t anticipate that because I was doing both jobs,” he said.

He acknowledged Thursday that he initially agreed to be at the school from 8:05 am to 3:15 pm daily. “I didn’t think that there was anything inappropriate about it,” he said. “I love teaching. I love impacting those kids. I think I did during the seven days I was in the classroom.”

He insisted he was an adjunct teacher and was still doing his duties as a district attorney. “I came in early and I worked late,” he said of his DA job. “And nobody can point to one meeting, one court appearance, one email, one call, one anything that I didn’t do.”

Smith is a longtime prosecutor who was appointed district attorney of Seminole, Hughes and Pontotoc counties in 2017. He was elected to the position in 2018, even though best-selling novelist John Grisham supported his opponent. He chose not to run for reelection this year and plans to teach again in the spring.

The condemnation does not keep him from completing his final months in office. It

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