Smith, who presides over the 6th Judicial District headquartered in Mound City, was KDJA president. He was succeeded at the gathering by Mike Keeley, chief judge of the 20th Judicial District based in Great Bend.
"Over the course of the last six years, I have been the legislative chairman and now this award is presented to me as president of the judges association," Smith said from the conference. "My biggest challenge during that whole period has been to fight with the legislature to adequately fund the court system and provide access to justice for all Kansas citizens.
Smith earned a bachelor's degree in political science with honors from Washburn University in 1977 and graduated from Washburn law school in 1980.
He moved to Mound City in 1982 and was elected Linn County attorney in 1984, serving four years.
He and his wife, Jenny, have two children, Lauren and Logan. "My kids are my greatest accomplishment," Smith said.
Keeley has served as chief judge of the five-county 20th Judicial District since January 2004.
The district includes Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell, and Stafford counties.
Keeley has been a district court judge since January 1993. He graduated from Washburn University in 1979 and from the Washburn Law School in 1982.
Also at the meeting, Maritza Segarra, Junction City, was presented the association's Community Outreach Award for her volunteer service in Geary County truancy court and other legal community programs.
Segarra was recognized by the KDJA "as an outstanding representative of the judiciary" for her contributions in the association, presentation of numerous Continuing Legal Education Programs, starting a truancy court at the local high school, which she attends every Tuesday, and serving as a member and active volunteer on numerous community and professional organizations in Junction City and across the state.
Eight former district court judges were recognized at Thursday's annual meeting.
They include: Allen R. Slater, Olathe; Robert J. Schmisseur, Pratt; Paul E. Miller, Manhattan; Thomas L. Toepfer, Hays; Charles A. Andrews, Topeka; Thomas L. Boeding, Kansas City, Kan.; Donald R. Noland, Girard; and David E. Bruns, Topeka, who is now a member of the state Court of Appeals.