BATON ROUGE – On Oct. 11, the Louisiana State University Law Center awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctorate of Laws to the Honorable James L. Dennis. Dennis serves as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
“Judge Dennis is highly deserving of this award based on his substantial contributions to the development of the law, to the judiciary, and to our state, region, and nation,” wrote Chancellor Jack M. Weiss.
Dennis served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana Tech in 1959, he graduated from LSU Law in 1962. While working towards his juris doctor, he was the managing editor of the Louisiana Law Review and elected to the Order of the Coif. Following schooling, Dennis practiced law in Monroe with Hudson, Potts & Bernstein. He later obtained his Master of Laws from the University of Virginia in 1984.
From 1968 to 1991, Dennis held numerous positions in the Louisiana State Government, including state representative, delegate and chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973, coordinator of the Louisiana Constitutional Revision Commission, chairman of the board of governors of the Louisiana Judicial College, and chairman of the Louisiana Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
Dennis began his judiciary career in 1972 when he was elected as district judge for the 4th Judicial District Court. He then was elected to the Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal for a year before moving to the Louisiana Supreme Court, where he served for 20 years. In 1995, President Clinton nominated Dennis to serve as a Circuit Court Judge for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Dennis’ involvement to the law profession includes his membership in the Louisiana State Bar Association, American Bar Association, Louisiana Judicial College, Louisiana Law Institute, Martin Luther King Justice Center Advisory Board at Grambling University, Louisiana Supreme Court Historical Society, and the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society.
Dennis’s involvement in the LSU Law Center includes his service as a member of the LSU Law Alumni Board of Trustees, founding member and major donor to the Center’s Pugh Institute for Justice, and a member of the Chancellor’s Council. He was recognized as the LSU Law Center’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1995.
“Throughout Judge Dennis’ judicial career, he has consistently embodied a deep respect for civil law sources and methodology, and a continual awareness that the welfare of the community often demands a flexible interpretation of basic civil code principles,” reads his nomination.
The award was presented at the Law Center’s annual Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Achievement Awards Luncheon at the Lod Cook Conference Center.