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Reece Tacha, Deannell

Reece Tacha, JD
Year Inducted: 
Deanell Reece Tacha
  • Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit since 2001
  • Appointed to the Court of Appeals by President Reagan in 1985
  • 17th woman ever appointed to the Court of Appeals and 2nd woman appointed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Kansas
  • Former Associate Dean of the KU School of Law

          Deanell Reece Tacha (pronounced Tah-ha) has had a distinguished career in higher education and the federal judiciary. A native of Scandia, Kan., Tacha received her bachelor's degree with honors in American studies from the University of Kansas and her law degree from the University of Michigan. President Ronald Reagan appointed Tacha to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in December 1985, where she currently serves as a federal appellate judge. She became chief judge of the 10th Circuit on Jan. 1, 2001.

          Named a White House Fellow in 1971, she was assigned as special assistant to Secretary of Labor James D. Hodgson. The following year, at the conclusion of her fellowship, she joined the law firm of Hogan and Hartson as an associate in Washington, D.C. Two years later, she returned to Kansas to engage in private practice. In 1974, she joined the KU School of Law faculty, becoming associate dean of the law school in 1977. In 1981, Tacha was elevated to the university position of Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

          Judge Tacha was a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1994-1998. She also chaired the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association in 1995-96. From 1990-1994 and from 2001 to July 1, 2005, she served as chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch. Tacha has been a national Trustee of the American Inns of Court Foundation since 2000 and currently serves as the president of that organization.

          She is a past chair of the Appellate Judges Conference and a former member of the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession. Having served as national president of the Kansas University Alumni Association, Judge Tacha is also on the Board of Trustees for Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City and remains active in numerous professional and civic organizations.

          In 1992, Tacha received the KU Alumni Association's Fred Ellsworth Medallion for extraordinary service to the university and received its most prestigious award, the Distinguished Service Citation, in 1996. Tacha's parents are former Kansas Republican national committeewoman Marynell Dyatt Reece and Harry William "Bill" Reece. Her sisters are Mary Lou Reece, Jane Ann Reece Ewy and Saralyn Reece Hardy, who is director of KU's Spencer Museum of Art. Tacha, a resident of Lawrence, is married to John A. Tacha. They have four children.

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