Published on August 15, 2023  
carroll retires
Judge John Carroll, J.D. ’74, former dean of Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, passed away on Monday, Aug. 14. Carroll served as dean from 2001 until 2014 and continued to serve as a professor until his retirement in 2022.
Under his leadership as dean, the law school achieved national recognition for the quality of its academic programs.
In the law school, Judge Carroll taught courses related to mediation, evidence, trial practice, ethics and professionalism and e-discovery. But his true passion was his commitment to serving the public, especially helping veterans. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Carroll co-founded and served as the supervising attorney for the Cumberland Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, which became more commonly known as C-VETS. Since the program launched in 2020, it has positively impacted the lives of countless veterans across the state of Alabama. Additionally, he and his wife, Susan, initiated the Susan G. Carroll Scholarship which helps financially assist law students in need.
In his career, Carroll was the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1974 to 1984, and served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Alabama from 1986 to 2001. He also served on the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, a group that analyzes and makes recommendations to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Congress on possible changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Commenting on his unusually long 13-year tenure as dean of Cumberland School of Law, he said, “Samford is a unique place—it really is. It’s a Christian-oriented school but one that’s a convening place for all sorts of different ideas and the exchange of different ideas. It was a great experience, and I’m very, very thankful for the opportunity to serve both the law school and the university.”
A native of Washington, D.C., Carroll received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, his Juris Doctor from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, and a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School.
In reflecting on Judge Carroll’s life and impact, Cumberland School of Law dean Blake Hudson said, “Judge Carroll was a beloved colleague and friend. We owe him a great deal of gratitude for simply being who he was―an inspiring leader who always put others, and country, before himself.”

The service for Judge Carroll will be Friday, Sept. 22 at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Hoover, Alabama (2061 Patton Chapel Rd, Hoover, AL 35216). The visitation will be held from 12 until 1:30 p.m. and the funeral mass will be held from 1:30 until 2:30 p.m. A private family burial will be held later in the afternoon.

Judge Carroll’s family asks that gifts made in memory of Judge Carroll be designated exclusively to the Cumberland Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic (C-VETS), part of Cumberland’s Clinical Programs, that he co-founded. 

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Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.