Dee D. Drell

Dee Dodson Drell
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
Assumed office
October 15, 2012
Preceded by Robert G. James
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
Assumed office
April 10, 2003
Nominated by George W. Bush
Preceded by F.A. Little, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1947-11-04) November 4, 1947
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Suzanne Weber Drell
Relations Cleveland Dear (great-uncle by marriage)
Alma mater Tulane University
Tulane University Law School
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Judge Advocate General's office (1971-1975)

Dee Dodson Drell (born November 4, 1947) is the chief United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, based in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in Central Louisiana. Drell was nominated by U.S. President George W. Bush on January 15, 2003, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, 99-0, on April 9, received his commission on April 10, and had his investiture ceremony on May 30.

Early life and experience

Drell was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Theodore Louis Drell, Jr. (1913–2006) and the late Mrs. Drell. The Drells had three other children, Theodore L. Drell, III, Robert L. Drell, and Barbara Drell Allen. Drell obtained both his Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and his Juris Doctor degrees from Tulane University and Tulane University Law School in 1968 and 1971, respectively.

Drell served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's office from 1971–1975, based part of the time in Columbus, Georgia. He entered private practice in Alexandria in 1975. Bush nominated him to succeed Judge F. A. Little, Jr., of Alexandria. Like Judge Little, Drell was affiliated with the firm Gold, Weems, Bruser, Sues & Rundell prior to joining the bench.

Drell has been active in state and local bar associations, and he assisted the state bar with attorney disciplinary matters. He was a board member of the Family Mediation Council of Louisiana from 1986-1992 and a member of the Rapides Parish Indigent Defender Board from 1987 to 1994. He served on a state task force on racial and ethnic fairness in the courts. He is a member of Kiwanis International.

Judge Drell also devoted time on a pro bono basis to helping individuals suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. He counseled the Central Louisiana AIDS Support Services and AIDSLaw of Louisiana, Inc. In 1997, he received the Pro Bono Publico Award from AIDSLaw of Louisiana. Drell and his family are Episcopalian.


Though Drell is considered a conservative Republican – he donated $300 to defeated GOP congressional candidate Clyde C. Holloway even after Bush tendered the nomination – he drew the praise of one of the Senate's most liberal members, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. At the time of the nomination, Leahy, then the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Drell as "a lawyer’s lawyer, rather than a political or judicial activist," a category in which Leahy placed many of Bush's district and circuit court nominees.

Leahy continued: "Mr. Drell has a record of accomplishment and compassion as a lawyer of which we can all be proud. He has the full support of both of his home-state senators, (then Democrats John Breaux and Mary Landrieu). His record has generated no controversy or criticism. If only, our circuit court nominees had records such as his. This nomination is a good example of the kind of candidate who engenders bipartisan support."

Ending desegregation cases

Judge Drell has tangled with longstanding school desegregation lawsuits, filed in the 1960s, which brought area parishes under the scrutiny of the federal court to guarantee that the districts were working toward a racially unitary school system. Drell approved school campus and grade assignments for Natchitoches Parish. He also ended the desegregation suit against Rapides Parish in 2006[1] and against Grant Parish in 2007. He declared that both districts were in substantial compliance with applicable national civil rights laws and educational regulations. One of Drell's predecessors, Nauman Scott of Alexandria, had periodically monitored the Rapides and Grant parish systems for many years to seek compliance with federal law.


  1. Mandy M. Goodnight (September 28, 2006). "School milestone called "great day" for Rapides Parish". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert G. James
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
Preceded by
F.A. Little, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
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