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Law School Mourns Loss of Professor James W. Jeans, Sr.

October 31, 2006

We mourn his loss as he was a wonderful teacher, a great mentor, and a good friend. Our prayers are with his wife, Sheryle Jeans, and the family.

James W. Jeans, Sr., Distinguished University Professor of Law, passed away on Monday, October 30, 2006, at the age of 78. He had a massive heart attack that occurred during a faculty meeting.

Professor Jeans joined the Liberty faculty in 2005 as Distinguished University Professor of Law and developed the school’s trial advocacy program in addition to teaching Torts, Civil Procedure, and Evidence.

Any history of trial advocacy in America would have to acknowledge the contributions of James W. Jeans, Sr. Liberty law students benefited from Professor Jeans’ vast trial and appellate advocacy experience, his teaching expertise, and his legal scholarship. In his law practice he tried nearly 250 cases to completion and briefed and argued more than 65 cases before state and Federal appellate courts. Although widely traveled, Professor Jeans was primarily Missouri-based. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1966 to 1994, he taught courses in Trial Advocacy, Torts, Civil Procedure, Evidence, and related courses at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. He was also appointed by the Supreme Court of Missouri to a committee of twelve to draft Civil Instructions and served as a reporter and editor of Missouri Approved Instructions, 2d ed.

His stamp on the legal profession, however, may be traced to his pioneering initiatives in the fields of trial advocacy and continuing legal education. The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) has set the gold standard, here and internationally, for training legal professionals in trial practice skills. Professor Jeans helped to launch NITA in 1972 as a founding faculty member. He was also on the founding faculties of the Court Practice Institute; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Trial Lawyers College; and the American Association of Trial Lawyers-Hastings College Trial Advocacy (also serving as its co-chairman). He held the position of lecturer at the Academy College of Judicial Education and the National College of Judicial Education. Seeing the continuing education needs of legal professionals over 30 years ago, Professor Jeans was instrumental in developing early “CLE” programs that have become expected by today’s practicing attorneys nationwide.

In his words, “Liberty University School of Law is a unique convocation of believers – students, faculty and staff – dedicated to preserving and advancing a philosophy of law that embraces the realization that God is the author and sustainer of our system of jurisprudence. Such were the representations made to me as I considered a return to academia – representations that have proven to be true. The mood that prevails at Liberty reflects a spiritual maturity which brings out the better angels of us all and permits enlightened relations among and between staff, students, and faculty. That is why I feel blessed to be a part of this unique team.”