Jogging for Cheney Joe

By: Annie Beckstrom

January 10th marked the first annual “Jog for Cheney Jo,” a two-mile run created by the LSU Law Running Club and SBA to honor the memory of beloved professor and Interim Dean, Cheney Joseph.

Current students, alumni, faculty and others in the legal community were invited to participate in a quick jog around the LSU lakes and sorority row, which ended in a celebratory gathering at the Law Center featuring Professor Joseph’s drink of choice, Natural Light. Those who could not attend the run were encouraged to pay homage to Professor Joseph by going for a run, snapping a picture, and posting it to various social media outlets with the hashtag, “#jogforcheneyjo.”

The event proved to be a resounding success with approximately 150 people in attendance, including Professor Joseph’s wife, Mary Terrell Joseph, and several members of his family. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds were flooded with selfies of LSU Law alumni from across the country, saluting our treasured professor with a cold beer in hand.

Professor Joseph embodied an active soul and maintained a passion for running throughout his life. Many current and former students hold a shared memory of spotting the late professor out for an evening jog around campus, a ritual he preserved like clockwork until his passing.  His compassionate and magnetic spirit attracted running partners from all tiers of the legal profession, whether it be local judges, attorneys, or LSU faculty members who considered him a loyal comrade, or new law students eager to catch a tale from his storied career in Louisiana law. Anyone looking for Cheney Joseph at the end of the day could most likely find him on the steps of the law school sporting running shorts, high white socks, and tennis shoes, surveying the territory he dubbed home base. When asked in an interview for his 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award why he returned to Baton Rouge after attending Princeton University he simply stated, “Well, this is where I’m from. I haven’t ever spent more than that four years further than about ten miles away from that flag pole in the middle of the parade field. Like an old dog, I just come back and get underneath the porch.”

Professor Joseph’s imprint on the Louisiana legal community remains unparalleled and his career serves as a sacred aspiration for practitioners who wish to follow in his footsteps.  He has outfitted the esteemed roles of United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, 1976-77, First Assistant District Attorney and District Attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish, 1989-90, Judge Pro Tempore for the 16th JDC, 1992, Judge Pro Tempore for the 40th JDC, 1993, and Executive Counsel to Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster, Jr., 1996-2000.

One of Professor Joseph’s most cherished endeavors centered on his role in developing the budding legal minds of LSU Law students.  Current and former students who have had the distinct pleasure of taking one of Professor Joseph’s Criminal Law, Evidence, or Criminal Justice courses can attest to his passion for legal education. A typical Cheney Jo lecture felt akin to watching a play rather than sitting in a classroom. After enduring a slew of nerve racking Socratic lectures the first day of 1L year, Professor Joseph’s class served as a refuge for many of us, where students could breath a sigh of relief and watch the master work. Whether through dramatic reenactments of criminal mischief caused by the infamous duo, “Pee Wee and Joseph” or rehashing a story from his days as a prosecutor, Professor Joseph never failed to command our attention.

When returning to campus for the spring semester, one could not help but acknowledge that walking the halls of PMH felt slightly different lacking the presence of a man who has been described as the “beating heart” of LSU Law. Needless to say, Professor Joseph left a lasting impression on all who were fortunate enough to interact with him. While the mourning period for our fearless leader seems infinite, the “Jog For Cheney Jo” established a positive tradition of sharing anecdotes and admiration after partaking in Professor Joseph’s lifelong pastime. Breaking a sweat and enjoying a beer with friends seems to be a tribute worthy of the lighthearted professor whose spirit will remain with us forever.