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WILLIAM F. DUKE CROWLEY, 1923-2014

Crowley
            The Montana legal community lost one of its most revered academics when Professor Duke Crowley died at his home in Missoula on Wednesday, June 25th at the age of 91.  Even in life, “The Duke” was a legend among the bench and bar, teaching virtually every law student who graduated at the law school over a period of four decades, and equipping them with Duke witticisms (“Crowleyisms”) that will survive long after his death. 

            Duke Crowley was born in Walkerville, Montana on January 16, 1923.  He married Elaine Hausted from Anaconda and raised sons Paul and Matthew.  He served in the U.S. Army in 1945 and 1946.  He graduated from UM School of Law in 1950 and completed an LL.M. in Taxation at New York University in 1951. 

            Professor Crowley served as an Assistant Attorney General for Montana from 1952 to 1961.  He engaged in private practice in Helena while also serving as Deputy County Attorney from 1961-1966.  In 1966, after a personal visit from then Dean Robert Sullivan, he agreed to join the law school faculty, and his career would span 40 years.  Generations of Montana lawyers will remember him as the preeminent professor of Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Evidence, but he also taught Legislation, Local Government and Clinical Education. 

            Few law professors can claim to have had the impact on development of law that Professor Crowley had.  Throughout the 1960s, he was a member of the Montana Supreme Court’s Criminal Law Commission charged with revising Montana criminal law and procedure. He was a driver of the development, drafting and legislative adoption of the Montana Code of Criminal Procedure in 1967.  In 1969, Governor Forrest Anderson appointed Duke as Director of the Reorganization of the Executive Branch of Montana State Government.  In that capacity, he oversaw the transformation of more than 120 state agencies, bureaus and commissions into a couple dozen departments that form the basis of our current state government.  In 1972, as an advisor to the Montana Commission on the Courts he assisted in the development of a proposal for the constitutional restructuring of Montana’s judicial system.  He was appointed by the Governor in 1973 to the Commission on Post-Secondary Education, which studied and made recommendations on the higher education system in Montana.  The Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court appointed him a member of the Montana Commission on Rules of Evidence in 1974 and as Advisor to the Supreme Court on Judicial Rules in 1976.  On the Evidence Commission, he was a key figure in revision of Montana’s venue statutes in 1985 and the state’s statutes of limitations in 1987.

            Professor Crowley’s extensive scholarly work included drafting the Montana Code of Criminal Procedure, and in 1967 he co-authored, with Professor David Mason, a “Blueprint for Modernization” of Montana’s judicial system.  He edited and directed the 1600-page study of the Executive Department of Montana State Government in 1969.  He was principle draftsman of the Montana Criminal Code (1973), acted as editor-in-chief of the Annotated Prosecutor’s Manual in (1973) and editor-in-chief of the proposed criminal pattern instructions (1973).  His Montana Pleading and Practice forms manual (1983) became the backbone of civil litigation practice in Montana.  For classes, he developed his own Montana case books for Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law. 

            Professor Crowley retired from full-time teaching in 1990, passing his signature courses of Civil Procedure and Evidence to Professor Cynthia Ford.  He continued to serve the school part time, teaching on post retirement contracts until 2005.  In the post-retirement years, he took the bench as judge each spring and presided at mock motion hearings where he annually heard 80 students make arguments and acted as their mentor and instructor in improving their skills.  He was awarded Emeritus status upon retirement.  

            Duke Crowley was an astute observer of Montana history, politics and the legal community and was known even in the last years of his life for his impeccable ability to recount with wry humor events of Montana political history that occurred during his lifetime.  In 2011, he spoke at the memorial service of his longtime friend, Dean Robert Sullivan.  It was the last chance the bench, bar and public got to hear from the revered teacher and storyteller.

            The Law School is planning a memorial service celebrating the legacy of Professor Crowley. The service will be held in the early fall at a date to be announced. Gifts in Duke Crowley’s memory can be made to the University of Montana Foundation for the William F. (Duke) Crowley Endowment and mailed to The UM Foundation, Post Office Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807-7159.  

The Law School plans to develop a compilation of Duke Stories and “Crowleyisms” which we invite you to forward to kathleen.reeves@umontana.edu.