Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame

previous   |   back to index   |   next


JoAnne A. Epps

class of 1969
inducted in 1999

JoAnne A. Epps

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Professor of Law and Associate Dean,
Temple University School of Law

Attending Cheltenham High School in the late 1960's, JoAnne Epps was elected Homecoming Queen and Vice-President of the school by her fellow students. She graduated from Cheltenham in 1969 and attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut as a member of the school's first co-ed class. Receiving her B.A. from Trinity in 1973, Epps went on to study at the Yale University School of Law. She received her J.D. in 1976.

Frequently encountering the stereotype that a black lawyer's place was in poverty law or community law, Epps nonetheless pursued her ambition to become a United States Attorney. She sought to gain experience as a prosecutor, and since
Philadelphia did not furnish her with the best opportunities, she accepted an offer in California. In 1976, Epps became the Deputy City Attorney for Los Angeles, and was soon made supervisor of the trials branch of the City Attorney's office. She was also a coordinator and lecturer in the office's training program, marking the beginning of an involvement in law education that has lasted until the present day.

In 1980, Epps became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Working in the criminal division, Epps distinguished herself as a skilled prosecutor. She concentrated on the prosecution of arson and other categories of fraud, and her work was recognized by federal law-enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Epps joined the faculty of the Temple University School of Law in 1985. Only three years later, she was honored with the George P. Williams III Memorial Award. She was the first woman to receive the award, presented annually to a member of the
Temple faculty chosen by the graduating class for outstanding excellence in teaching. Epps has served as the Law School's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs since 1989. In 1997, Epps was honored by being made I. Herman Stern Professor of Law, an honorary three-year professorship. She has taught and continues to teach such courses as Criminal Law, Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiation, and Trial Advocacy.

Epps has served as
Temple University's Faculty Representative to the NCAA since 1994, and as the Atlantic 10 Conference's NCAA Faculty Representative since 1995. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association of Philadelphia and Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Gender Task Force. Since 1998 she has served as the Section of Litigation Division Director for the American Bar Association.

As part of her continuing commitment to law education, Epps embarks this month for the People's Republic of
China. Temple Law School is collaborating with the China University of Political Science and Law, China's largest center for legal education and legal research, in a program educating Chinese attorneys in matters of American law. The joint program, which leads to an LL.M. degree, is the only one of its kind any place in the world, and is the first foreign law degree program approved in China.

Epps describes herself as "devoted, maybe a little too much, to work". In addition to traveling, reading and bicycling, she includes her work as a mentor among her greatest satisfactions. Working with students and young lawyers inside and outside
Temple Law School, Epps seeks to "provide a resource for young people entering the profession which I never had".

For eleven years Epps has been married to L. Harrison Jay, the director of community development for the Temple University Health System.