Criminal defense attorney Stephen Smith, with several recent high-profile criminal cases, has received the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review.

Smith, 47, of the Augusta law firm Lipman & Katz, was given a rating of “AV,” a pre-eminent rating meaning his work is “a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence,” according to a news release Tuesday from the law firm.

A native of Whitefield, Smith handles personal injury, criminal defense and other civil litigation for the Augusta law firm.

The rating means he has high professional ethics and pre-eminent legal ability, according to the release.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings were created in 1887 as an objective tool that would attest to a lawyer’s ability and professional ethics, based on the confidential opinions of other lawyers and judges who have worked with the lawyers they are evaluating. The ratings evaluate lawyers based on the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary, including both those who are rated and those who are not.

“Steve’s commitment to his clients and passion for his work make him one of the most well known attorneys in the state,” said Karen Boston, an attorney at Lipman & Katz. “This peer rating reflects the success he has had in a number of high-profile cases from personal injury to criminal defense and sex crimes to family law. He has earned this great honor and we are proud of him for his accomplishments.”

Smith has been a trial lawyer for 18 years with a statewide practice in criminal defense, personal injury and family law. He founded Smith Law Offices 15 years ago in Bangor and later joined Lipman & Katz, where he is now a shareholder. He has represented clients in more than 100 serious jury trials and many bench trials.

“I am very pleased with the recognition,” Smith said Tuesday. “I give most of the credit to my clients and colleagues who have made the practice of law so enjoyable and rewarding over the years.”

Smith currently is representing Luc Tieman, of Fairfield, who awaits trial in connection with the shooting death of his wife. Tieman made his first appearance at Somerset County Superior Court in September, and he did not enter a plea to the charge of intentional and knowing murder of Valerie Tieman, 34, and remains held without bail pending a bail hearing. Smith said the deadline for discovery paperwork in the case is Feb. 18 and no trial date has been set.

Smith also represented Justin Pillsbury, convicted in March of murdering Jillian T. Jones in November 2013 in Augusta, in Pillsbury’s failed bid for a new trial. He represented Jason Cote, who was convicted in December 2015 of beating a Detroit man to death in 2013; and Damik Davis, 25, of Queens, New York, charged with murder in connection with the November 2015 beating death of 31-year-old Joseph Marceau, of Augusta. While Davis was arrested and charged shortly after the discovery of Marceau’s body, three other people were indicted later on the same charges by a Kennebec County grand jury.

Smith was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and federal and state courts. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international relations at the University of Maine and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law. He is a member of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Maine State Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow