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News Posted on January 9, 2019

King Hall grieves loss of founding faculty member Professor Floyd Feeney

Professor Floyd F. Feeney, a founding UC Davis School of Law faculty member and a beloved teacher to generations of King Hall students, died on January 8, 2019 after a short illness. He was 85.

The Homer G. and Ann Berryhill Angelo Professor of Law at UC Davis, Feeney specialized in criminal law and procedure, and election law. He was an active faculty member from 1968 until his passing. During the fall 2018 semester, he taught Criminal Law and a seminar entitled Reforming the Police and Criminal Justice.

A student and alumni favorite, Feeney received the law school’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986 and 2008, one of a few two-time winners of the award. He was several times chosen to be a faculty marshal at UC Davis School of Law’s commencements, including for last year’s 2018 ceremony.

Dean Kevin R. Johnson noted that, “Floyd Feeney was the heart and soul of UC Davis School of Law. A legendary teacher devoted to his students, an internationally-acclaimed scholar, and dedicated public servant, Professor Feeney represented all that was great about Martin Luther King Jr. Hall. His grace, respect for all, and commitment to excellence can be seen in the law school that he was central in creating. His passing is a great blow to our community and we all will miss Floyd dearly.”

Professor Feeney authored seven books and countless articles. During his career, Professor Feeney received awards from the National Institute of Justice and the California Probation, Parole, and Correctional Association. He was a member of the influential law reform group the American Law Institute. Professor Feeney also was involved extensively in UC Davis campus governance for many years.

Professor Feeney arrived at King Hall in 1968, the year the law school building was completed. In 2016, he wrote in UC Davis School of Law’s Counselor magazine about the school’s earliest days:

“The first law school class consisted of around 75 students willing to take a chance on the new venture. When Martin Luther King was assassinated in the spring of their third year, law students were the first to recommend that the school building be named in his honor.

Students and faculty relationships in these early days were extremely close. There were many events that brought students and faculty together outside the classroom. These contacts and the close relationships helped to build a friendly, cooperative spirit. That spirit has endured and has ever since been an important part of King Hall.”

Professor Feeney worked in Washington, D.C., before coming to Davis. A law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black during the 1961 term, Professor Feeney later served as deputy special counsel for the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (1962-63), special assistant to the administrator of the Agency for International Development (1963-66), and assistant director, President’s Crime Commission (1966-67).

From 1968 until 1986, Professor Feeney served as executive director of the Center on Administration of Criminal Justice. From 1983-84, he was director of the London Office of the Vera Institute of Justice.

A 1995-96 Fulbright scholar at the University of Augsburg (Germany), he taught and lectured in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. His consulting and evaluation projects included work for the National Institute of Justice, the National Center for State Courts, the British Home Office, the California Legislature, the American Bar Association’s European and Eurasian Law Initiative, the Police Foundation and numerous individual criminal justice agencies.

From 1997-2014, Professor Feeney was director of the School of Law’s LL.M. program, which brings lawyers and judges to UC Davis from around the world to study in Davis. As director, he taught, counseled, supervised legal research papers, and generally worked closely with the students. Professor Feeney was instrumental in making the School of Law a leader in international legal education in the United States.

Professor Feeney received his J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar, the law review’s editor-in-chief, and recipient of the Sommer Award as outstanding graduate of 1960. He received his undergraduate degree in history from Davidson College, where he was student body president.

Professor Feeney is survived by daughters Elizabeth Feeney and Linda Fessler; grandchildren William Benn, Michael Fessler, Rupert Smith, Kaitlyn Fessler and Zachary Smith; and sons-in-law Robert Smith and Steve Fessler.

At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Floyd Feeney Scholarship Fund by sending to UC Davis School of Law, 400 Mrak Hall Drive, Davis, CA 95616.