Deanell Reece Tacha

Hon. Deanell Reece Tacha
Firm: Pepperdine University School of Law
Address: 24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
Phone: (310) 506-4611
Fax: (310) 506-4266
E-mail: Contact Us
Web site:

Position Bar Admissions Education
Honors Published Works Affiliations
Lawyer Profile:

Dean Tacha is Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the School of Law and professor of law. Previously, she was a Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, since January, 1986. She served as Chief Judge from January 2001 through 2007. Dean Tacha earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1968 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1971, and was a White House Fellow (1971-1972).

She returned to the University of Kansas where she served as associate professor at its School of Law from 1974-1977 and as professor of law from 1977-1985. She served as associate dean from 1977-1979, as associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1979-1981, and as vice chancellor for Academic Affairs between 1981-1985. In 1992, Dean Tacha received the KU Alumni Association's Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the university and received its most prestigious award, the Distinguished Service Citation, in 1996. In January of 2010, she was named "Kansan of the Year" by the organization Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.

Prior to joining the University of Kansas, she practiced law in Washington, D.C. and Kansas, and was for three years Director of the Douglas County Legal Aid Clinic (1974-1977). During her distinguished career, Dean Tacha served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States and was named in 2006 by U.S. Supreme Court 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 which oversees the federal judiciary's relationship with Congress and the executive branch. Dean Tacha also was a member of the United States Sentencing Commission which is responsible for studying and making recommendations to Congress about federal sentencing policy.

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 among members of the bench and bar in the United States and in the United Kingdom. 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, Judge Tacha 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 2004-2008. Her contributions to the legal profession were recognized when 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 John Marshall Award, which the American Bar Association bestows for positively impacting the justice system. In 2012, she was honored by the American Inns of Court with the A. Sherman Christensen Award for service to the American Inns of Court.

Dean Tacha holds professional memberships in the American Bar Association, American Bar Foundation (Life Member), American Law Institute, Kansas Bar Association, Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of Coif and she is admitted to the Bar in Kansas, Missouri, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, she is a past chair of the Appellate Judges Conference and a former member of the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession. She is an honorary member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Dean Tacha is currently serving on the California State Bar Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform and the Task Force on Civic Education, appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of California. She is a member of the Chancery Club of Los Angeles and is a frequent commentator on issues related to legal education and the legal profession.

Dean Tacha has held leadership positions in numerous civic and charitable organizations including chairing the Kansas Territorial Sesquicentennial Commission, the Lawrence/Douglas County Heritage Area Commission, and the Freedom's National Heritage Area Board of Trustees. She has served as a member of the board of directors or as a trustee at Kansas State Historical Society, Kansas Health Foundation, Baker University, Saint Paul School of Theology, Lawrence Arts Center, and First United Methodist Church, Lawrence, to name a few.

Current Employment Position(s):
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law

Bar Admissions:
Missouri, 1971
Kansas, 1973
District of Columbia, 1973
The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1971
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence
Honors: Order of the Coif

University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1968
B.A., Bachelor of Arts
Honors: Honors in American Studies

Published Works:
Judges and Legislators: Enhancing the Relationship, 44 Am. U.L. Rev. 1537, 1995

'W' Stories: Women in Leadership Positions in the Judiciary, 97 W. Va. L. Rev. 683, 1995

Independence of the Judiciary for the Third Century, 46 Mercer L. Rev. 645, 1995

The 'C' Word: On Collegiality, 56 Ohio St. L.J. 585, 1995

James K. Logan: Colleague, Mentor, Friend, Jurist, Scholar, Teacher, Small-Town Kansas Kid, 43 Kan. L. Rev. 493, 1995

Tenth Circuit Procedure and Expectations, 33 Washburn L.J. 43, 1993

The Tale of Widget and P: A Story of the Legal Profession, 2 Kan.J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 127, 1993

Renewing our Civic Commitment: Lawyers and Judges as Painters of the Big Picture, 41 Kan. L. Rev. 481, 1993

Judges and Legislators: Renewing the Relationship, 52 Ohio St. L.J. 279, 1991

Classes/Seminars Taught:
Advanced Appellate Advocacy, University of Kansas School of Law, 1992 - Present

Advanced Appellate Advocacy, Duke University School of Law, 1989 - Present

Contemporary Issues in American Jurisprudence, University of Kansas Department of American Studies, 1994

Honors and Awards:
Fred Ellsworth Medallion, University of Kansas, Alumni Association, 1992

Don Volker Leadership Award, 1991-1992 Leadership Lawrence Class, 1992

Baker University Community Service Award, Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas, 1988

Professional Associations and Memberships:
Judicial Conference of the United States, 1989 - 1994
Member, Judicial Branch Committee

Judicial Conference of the United States, 1987 - 1989
Court Security Committee

American Bar Association, Judicial Division

American Bar Association, 1989 - 1994
Member, Appellate Judges' Conference

American Bar Association, 1987 - 1991
Commission on Women in the Profession

Kansas Bar Association, 1988 - 1995
Bench Bar Committee

Kansas Bar Association, 1992 - 1994
Committee on Professionalism, Equality & Quality

University of Kansas Alumni Association, 1987 - 1993
Executive Committee

University of Kansas Alumni Association, 1988 - 1989
National President

Saint Paul School of Theology Board of Trustees, 1987 - Present

Baker University Board of Trustees, 1988 - 1996

Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990 - 1994

American Bar Association, 1992 - 1993

American Bar Association, Judicial Division, 1995 - 1996

U.S. Sentencing Commission, 1994 - 1998

Past Employment Positions:
University of Kansas, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 1981 - 1985

University of Kansas, Professor of Law, 1977 - 1985

University of Kansas, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 1979 - 1981

University of Kansas School of Law, Associate Dean, 1977 - 1979

Douglas County Legal Aid Clinic, Lawrence, Kansas, Director, 1974 - 1977

University of Kansas, Associate Professor of law, 1974 - 1977

Private Practice, Concordia, Kansas, 1973 - 1974

Private Practice, Washington, DC, 1973 - Present

U.S. Department of Labor, White House Fellow, Special Assistant to the Secretary, 1971 - 1972

University of Kansas School of Law, Faculty, 1974 - 1985

U.S. Sentencing Commission, Member, 1994 - 1998

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Circuit Judge

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Chief Judge, 2001 - 2007

Gamma Phi Beta
Birth Information:
1946, Goodland, Kansas, United States of America

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