The fifth Annual
William French Smith Memorial Lecture
Dean Deanell Reece Tacha
DEANELL REECE TACHA is the Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the School of Law and Professor of Law. She has been a circuit judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, since January 1986. She served as chief judge from January 2001 through 2007.
She joined the faculty of the University of Kansas School of Law in 1974 where she served as Director of the Legal Aid Clinic and Associate Professor of Law. After being promoted to Professor of Law, she served as Associate Dean of the School of Law, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and as Chief Academic Officer of the University, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Prior to joining the University of Kansas, she practiced law in Washington, D.C. During her career, Dean Tacha served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States and was named in 2006 by Chief Justice John Roberts to the conference's Executive Committee. Previously, Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed her to serve two terms as chair of the conference's Committee on the Judicial Branch. Dean Tacha was also a member of the United States Sentencing Commission.
She has represented the judiciary of the United States internationally on several occasions, including participating in the American College of Trial Lawyers Anglo-American Legal Exchange. In 1992 the American Bar Association selected Dean Tacha as a member of a delegation of lawyers and judges who traveled to Albania to assist that nation in developing a new constitution and government, and in 2007 she represented American judges in the Canadian-American Legal Exchange.
As a spokesperson for enhanced ethics, professionalism, and civility in the legal profession, Dean Tacha has been active in the American Inns of Court movement. She helped found the Judge Hugh Means American Inn of Court in Lawrence, served on the national Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court, and was its national president from 2004 to 2008. She was named recipient of the Devitt Award in 2007, the highest honor given to a federal judge for distinguished lifetime service. In 2008 she was recipient of the American Bar Association's John Marshall Award.
Dean Tacha earned her BA from the University of Kansas in 1968 and her JD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1971, and was a White House Fellow (1971-1972).