The University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law community is mourning the passing of longtime professor Joseph “Joe” Taylor, who died Dec. 24 in Sacramento after a long illness. He was 88.
Taylor taught Trial Advocacy courses at McGeorge School of Law for 22 years, from when he started teaching in 1992 until his retirement in 2014. During his tenure at the law school, Taylor helped shape the minds of thousands of young lawyers.
“Joe was a vital and valued mentor. He built the Trial Advocacy and Mock Trial Competition programs into their powerhouse position, leading to McGeorge’s No. 8 national ranking,” said Cary Bricker, Director of McGeorge’s Eglet Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and Noël M. Ferris Professor of Trial Skills. “He was endlessly generous with his time and talent to his students and colleagues alike.”
He served as director of the school’s trial advocacy program for seven years and as chair of the school’s Advocacy Committee for four years.
“Joe was remarkable, especially for his creative imagination. He generated countless ideas for improvement and innovation, including the National Ethics Trial Competition, the First-Year Ben Frantz Competition, and Focused Decision Jury Consulting,” said Professor Emeritus Jay Leach, who joined Taylor in 1996 and succeeded him in his directorships upon Taylor’s retirement.
Prior to entering academia, he served as a prosecuting attorney for 22 years in both the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office and the Ventura District Attorney’s Office. He also served as the Riverside County Public Defender for five years, where he managed a law office of 77 attorneys, over 200 employees, nine offices, and a $9 million budget.
Throughout his career, he tried over 150 felony jury trials to verdict. He tried a number of pro bono criminal defense and prosecution trials.
Taylor authored or co-authored 13 trial practice case files, 11 of which were published by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and LexisNexis. One of the case files was based on the controversial suicide ruling in the death of rock star Kurt Cobain.
He demonstrated his passion for advocacy through public service and volunteerism. Taylor served as a pro-tem judge on the Sacramento County Superior Court for 14 years. Taylor co-founded both the Sacramento County Management Association and the California District Attorneys Association.
Taylor won many accolades and awards during his career. Notably, he was selected as the State of California Prosecutor of the Year in 1982 and McGeorge’s Professor of the Year in 2004.
“Joe was a beloved presence at our law school. He was a brilliant professor, leader, and colleague,” said McGeorge Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz. “He was a role model to many, and he will be dearly missed by the McGeorge community.”
He earned an undergraduate degree from California State University, a JD from Loyola University School of Law in 1961, and an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1986.
During retirement, Taylor remained active through his love of bicycling and won multiple racing trophies in his division. He also enjoyed tandem biking with his wife, Susan.
A memorial service will be held at a time and date to be announced. Remembrances can be posted on McGeorge’s Facebook page.