class of 1969
inducted in 1999
JoAnne A. Epps
Former Assistant U.S.
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
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.