Interim Co-Dean and the Joe W. Sanders-Law Alumni Association Professor of Law and Dr. Dale E. Bennett Distinguished Professor of Law
Statement from LSU Law Center
The LSU Law Center community mourns the loss of our beloved Interim Co-Dean Cheney C. Joseph, Jr., who passed away December 18, 2015. He was the heart and soul of the Law Center, and he was one of the most influential lawyers and people in the history of the Louisiana legal profession. We all are blessed to have known and loved this great lawyer, professor, and man, whose spirit and influence will live forever through his family, friends, colleagues, students and graduates. We will not see his like again.
Dean Joseph graduated from University High School in Baton Rouge, Class of 1960. He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1964, where he lettered in varsity crew. He graduated from the LSU Law Center, Order of the Coif, Class of 1969. Dean Joseph served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1960 to 1966, attaining the rank of lance corporal.
Dean Joseph joined the faculty of the Law Center in 1972. He was a brilliant scholar and teacher in criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. For over four decades, Dean Joseph shared his incisive legal acumen, his folksy and memorable stories and hypotheticals, and his unmatched legal instincts with his students. At the Law Center, Dean Joseph filled his days with teaching students and performing a daunting array of duties as an interim co-dean and previously as vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. Dean Joseph served as vice chancellor under three Law Center chancellors. No one ever has served LSU Law Center students and colleagues more diligently, passionately, and compassionately than Dean Joseph. He worked at the Law Center almost around the clock seven days a week because he loved what he did. Even while serving as interim co-dean, and before that as vice chancellor, Dean Joseph often taught three classes per semester. Dean Joseph was named the Law Center’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
No one has served the legal profession of Louisiana in more ways: United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, 1976-77; First Assistant District Attorney and then District Attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, 1989-90; Judge Pro Tempore for the 16th JDC 1992; Judge Pro Tempore for the 40th JDC 1993. He served as Executive Counsel to Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster, Jr. 1996-2000. He served two terms as the executive director of the Louisiana Judicial College, overseeing the continuing legal education of the state’s judiciary. That wide swath of influence and impact in the legal profession never will be matched.
Dean Joseph always had time for family and friends. He was an avid runner, who regularly ran the LSU campus and lakes with colleagues, judges, students, and friends. He completed the Memphis Marathon and almost climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier with his son Terrell, his brother Allen, and his friend and colleague Tom Galligan. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary, sons Allen and Terrell, grandchildren Reece, Chloe, and Jackson, brothers Allen and Colley, and many loving family members.
A devoutly religious man, Dean Joseph was an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church, where he served as a Eucharistic minister.
He was a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.
Writing for the LSU Law Center Civilian on the occasion of Dean Joseph’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Nicholas Antaki, Class of 2015, wrote that Dean Joseph “is the beating heart of LSU Law. The two have become synonymous and interchangeable.” Professor Emeritus Frank L. Maraist said of his longtime friend and colleague, “In all my years at the Law Center, I would say that Cheney is our most valuable player.”
With heavy hearts, we bid farewell to our beloved friend, colleague, teacher, mentor, and leader. He was our very best, and he was unquestionably our heart and soul. We will endeavor to honor his memory by working to preserve and improve the Law Center to which he devoted his life’s work. We never will forget Dean and Professor Cheney Joseph.
Full Obituary (links to an external site)