LMU Law Dean and Vice President Gary R. Wade announced plans to honor Duncan earlier this year. He will join the ranks of University namesakes and esteemed lawyers Abraham Lincoln and John J. Duncan, Jr., who also have prominently displayed portraits at LMU Law. The LMU Law courtroom is also named in honor of the late Robert H. Watson, Jr., who was a noted Knoxville attorney and a member of the LMU Board of Trustees.
Joe D. Duncan enlisted in the U.S. Army and transferred to the Air Force where he served as a navigator from 1943 to 1945, reaching the rank of 2nd Lieutenant before the end of World War II. He returned home, married his childhood sweetheart, Lou, and finished his education earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and a LL.M. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Upon admission to the bar, he joined the practice of his older brother, John J. Duncan, Sr.
Joe D. Duncan served as an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1950 to 1953. After ending his term with the FBI, he rejoined the firm of Duncan and Duncan. In 1966, he was elected as the Criminal Court Judge for Knox County, where he served for nine years before being appointed by Gov. Winfield Dunn to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. During the last three years of his 15-year tenure, he served as Presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, a position that included the administrative responsibilities for the nine-member court.
“Judge Joe D. Duncan was well known for his patience, courtesy and sound judgment,” Wade said. “He was especially well known for his humor and storytelling. He mentored many members of the bench during his tenure and continues to participate in bench-and-bar activities in Knoxville. It is very fitting that his portrait have a prominent position in the LMU-Duncan School of Law, where it is our mission to educate the next generation of bench-and-bar members to serve Appalachia and beyond.”