While at the School of Law, Dennis Turner has served as Assistant Dean, Acting Dean, director of the Law Clinic, director of the Legal Profession Program, chair of the Admissions Committee, and as adviser for both the Mock Trial teams and the Moot Court Board. In 1983 Professor Turner was named an honorary alumnus by the UD Alumni Association in recognition of his outstanding service to the School of Law. He won the University of Dayton Award for Teaching in 1990 and has also been chosen Professor of the Year twice by the School of Law students. When not teaching at the School of Law, he is Master of the Bench for the Carl D. Kessler Inn of Court and serves as a Master Teaching Fellow for UD.
Interested in how other countries litigate and resolve disputes, Professor Turner took a 1994 sabbatical to Winchester, England, where he worked with barristers at Pump Court Chambers trying criminal cases. He returned to Winchester in 2001 to continue his study of the British criminal justice system. “It’s a much more civil system between the barristers, both in and outside the courtroom,” he says. “I participated in dozens and dozens of criminal trials and rarely was an objection made.”
Professor Turner observed several differences between the American and British justice systems. “Barristers are very good,” he says. “I was surprised how quickly they can put a case together, often over a weekend, and they’re in court every week.” Barristers do wear wigs while in court. “As an ex-colonial I first had a bias against wigs,” he admits, “but now I see the advantages. An attractive-looking lawyer usually has an edge with juries. Put both lawyers in wigs, however, and it levels the playing field.”
At the School of Law, Professor Turner incorporated role playing into his courses, requiring students to interact with actors in the roles of clients and witnesses. He believes learning to deal with situations that students will likely encounter after they graduate should be an important and required part of law school education. “It gives students the opportunity to make mistakes, but mistakes that don’t hurt a real client, and they are mistakes they won’t make again,” he says.
Before coming to UD, Professor Turner was an assistant county prosecutor for Montgomery County, Ohio, and a magistrate for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame’s London Program.
He is the only remaining full-time faculty member from 1974, when the School of Law reopened. “There were five faculty members and one classroom,” he remembers. Professor Turner calls teaching at UD rewarding. “UD is a great institution,” he says. “Here I am more than 35 years later and still having a great time.”
J.D., Georgetown University, 1970
B.A., Georgetown University, 1967
Areas of Law
Civil and Criminal Litigation
Why Can’t Law Schools Be More Like Med Schools?, 3 The Complete Law (2007)
Steele v. Kitchener: Case Materials and Problems, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (2005)
Infusing Ethical, Moral and Religious Values into a Law School Curriculum, University of Dayton Law Review (1999)
Can Civility Return to the Courtroom? Will American Jurors Like It? Ohio State Law Journal (1997)
Imported From England? Legal Times (1997)
Using British Trial Procedures in America, Law and Human Behavior (1997)
Against the Wind, Traverse Magazine (1996)
Can Civility Return to the American Courtroom? 146 New Law Journal 983 (London 1996)