McGeorge School of Law

Former McGeorge dean Gerald Caplan passed away March 14

March 24, 2020

Gerald “Jerry” Caplan

Gerald “Jerry” Caplan

Gerald “Jerry” Caplan, former University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law dean, passed away March 14. He was 82.

Caplan served as the seventh dean of McGeorge, from 1992 to 2001, and later served on the faculty until his retirement in 2014.

During his tenure as dean, Caplan created new academic programs, including what is now known as the Capital Center for Public Law and Policy, expanded McGeorge's presence in intercollegiate mock trial competitions around the nation and launched the Immigration Law Clinic that assists immigrants on their path to citizenship. In 2002, colleagues and friends of Caplan established the Dean Gerald Caplan Endowed Scholarship, which benefits a McGeorge student with financial need and whose academic record has improved dramatically from the previous year. 

Watch video of My Tien Doan, a recipient of the Dean Gerald Caplan Endowed Scholarship.

Caplan earned his bachelor’s, master’s and juris doctorate degrees from Northwestern University. He studied at Yale University as the recipient of a Falk Fellowship and, later, as a Senior Guggenheim Fellow, Caplan spent much of his legal career in public administration.

A Chicago native, Caplan began his career as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., and continued with the U.S. Department of Justice as general counsel for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and the D.C. Metropolitan Police. He subsequently served as the director of the National Institute for Justice.

Even after Caplan began teaching at George Washington University Law School, he was retained by the Department of Justice to review the use of deadly force by the Los Angeles Police Department, appointed to serve as interim president of the Legal Services Corporation and chosen to serve as deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection Bureau. After publishing an important analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's Miranda decision, he drafted model police interrogation guidelines that were adopted by numerous law enforcement agencies across the country.

Caplan is survived by his wife Deborah and son Graham. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.

Donations in Caplan’s name may be made to the Gerald Caplan Endowed Scholarship Fund or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.