Penny J. White

Portrait of Penny White at the University of Tennessee College of Law for an Annual Report about UTK on May 5, 2013. Photo by Steven Bridges -
  • Director of the Center for Advocacy and Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law


    B.S, East Tennessee State University
    J.D., 1981, University of Tennessee
    LL.M., 1987, Georgetown University


  • Location: Room 302
  • Phone Number: 865-974-6830
  • Email:
  • Courses Taught: Evidence; Advanced Evidence; Trial Practice; Pretrial Litigation (Civil & Criminal); Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiations; and Judicial Externship
  • Additional Information: Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Publications of Penny J. White

Professor Penny White draws on her diverse professional background as a lawyer and judge to inform her teaching, scholarship, and service.  As a lawyer, White practiced extensively in state and federal courts and successfully argued a case in the United States Supreme Court as a solo practitioner.  As a judge, White served as a trial and appellate judge and was the second woman and youngest member of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

These experiences influence her work as Director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, where she designs and implements a curricular concentration for students interested in pursuing careers in advocacy and dispute resolution.  White’s judicial experiences enlighten her scholarship, which addresses ethical issues related to judicial selection and recusal; capital jurisprudence; and substantive and procedural fairness in criminal cases.

White has received the law school’s Carden Award for her distinguished record of scholarship and the Yarbrough Award recognizing the single best piece of scholarly work for her article, Relinquished Responsibilities, published in the Harvard Law Review.  Recently , she received the University’s Jefferson Award in recognition and support of her research.  Although White is devoted to scholarly endeavors, she relishes teaching law students and legal professionals.  She has received the law school’s Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, the University’s National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teacher Award, and, as a judicial educator, the National Judicial College’s Payant Award for Teaching Excellence.

Despite her many full-time obligations, White is committed to assisting in improving the quality of justice in capital case.  To this end, she has served as a member of the National Judicial College Capital Litigation Improvement Initiation faculty and has authored a handbook for lawyers representing those charged with capital crimes in Tennessee. For her work authoring and updating the Handbook for the Defense of Capital Cases in Tennessee, the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers awarded her the 201 Robert W. Ritchie Service Award.

Before taking the bench in 1990, White practiced law in state and federal court, successfully arguing a case, as a solo practitioner, in the United States Supreme Court in 1988. Professor White taught at three other law schools before joining the UT faculty, serving as Director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse while teaching at Washington and Lee College of Law, holding the William J. Maier, Jr. Chair of Law at West Virginia College of Law, teaching at Denver University College of Law, and visiting at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Her work has been published in numerous law reviews and legal publications.



Biography of Penny J. White

Law Review Articles

An Antidote to Citizens United and White, Ind. L. Rev.(2012).

Relinquished Responsibilities, 123 Harvard L. Rev. 120 (2009).

Treated Differently in Life but not in Death: The Execution of the Mentally Retarded After Atkins v. Virginia, 76 Tenn. L. Rev. 685 (2009).

Using Judicial Performance Evaluations to Supplement Inappropriate Voter Cues and Enhance Judicial Legitimacy, 74 U. Mo. L. Rev. 635 (2009).

The Appeal to the Masses, 86 U. Denver L. Rev. 251 (2008).

A Response to Professor Fitzpatrick: The Rest of the Story, 75 Tenn. L. Rev. 501 (Spring 2008).

The Aftermath of Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Pound Foundation (Summer 2007).

"He Said, She Said,” and Matters of Life and Death, 19 Regents U. L. Rev. 387 (Fall 2006).

A Matter of Perspective, 3 U. of North Carolina First Amendment L. Rev. 5 (Winter 2004).

Some Appeasement for Professor Tushnet, 71 Tenn. L. Rev. 275 (Winter 2004).

Mourning and Celebrating on Gideon's Fortieth, 72 U. Missouri-Kansas City L. Rev. 515 (Winter 2003).

The Good, The Bad, and The (Very, Very) Ugly, and A Fistful of Dollars, 38 U. Rich. L. Rev. 626 (March 2004).

Symposim: Preserving the Legacy: A Tribute to Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico, One Who Exalted Judicial Independence, 38 U. Rich. L. Rev. 615 (March 2004).

Legal, Political, and Ethical Dilemmas to Applying International Human Rights Laws in State Courts, 71 U. Cinn. L. Rev. 937 (Spring 2003).

Rescuing Confrontation, 54 S.C. L. Rev. 537 (Spring 2003).

Judging Judges: Securing Judicial Independence By Use of Judicial Performance Evaluations, 24 Fordham Urban Law J. 1053 (February 2002).

Errors and Ethics: Dilemmas in Death, 29 Hofstra L. Rev. 1265 (Summer 2001).

A Response and Retort, 33 Conn. L. Rev. 899 (Spring 2001).

Newly Available, Not Newly Discovered, 2 J. of App. Prac. and Proc. 7 (Winter 2000).

Can Lightning Strike Twice? Obligations of State Courts After Pulley v. Harris, 70 Col. L. Rev. 813 (Summer 1999).

Master, Justice, Chancellor Kent: His Legacy For Today's Judges, 74 Chi-Kent L. Rev. (1999).

If Justice Is For All, Who Are Its Constituents?, 64 Tenn. L. Rev. 259 (1997).

"It's a Wonderful Life,” or Is It? America Without Judicial Independence, 27 U. Mem. L. Rev. 1 (1996), partial reprint in 80 Judicature   174 (Jan. - Feb. 1997).

Yesterday's Vision, Tomorrow's Challenge: Alternative Dispute Resolution in Tennessee, 26 U. Mem. L. Rev. 957 (1996).

A Survey of Tennessee Supreme Court Death Penalty Cases in the 1990s, 61 Tenn. L. Rev. 733 (1994).

A Noble Idea Whose Time Has Come, 18 Mem. State L. Rev. 223 (1988) (master’s thesis).


Tennessee Capital Case Handbook (2010)

Chapters in Books

Introduction to Gideon v. Wainwright, in Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (2012).

Chapter 1: Introduction to Capital Litigation: Overview and History of Capital Jurisprudence in the United States Supreme Court, in Capital Litigation Improvement Initiative Benchbook for State Trial Judges (2009).

Chapter 10: Review of State Death Sentenced by Federal Courts: The Impact of Federal Habeas Corpus on State Death Penalty Cases, in Capital Litigation Improvement Initiative Benchbook for State Trial Judges (2009).

Chapter 6: Judicial Independence and Capital Punishment in Tennesse, in Tennessee’s New Abolitionists: The Fight Against the Death Penalty in the Volunteer State (2009).

Several Chapters in Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties and Rights (Otis H. Stephens & John Scheb, eds.)(2006).

Chapter 33: The Continuing Evolution of the Federal Rules of Evidence, in The Improvement of the Administration of Justice (7th ed. 2001).

Contribute to a big idea. Give to UT Law.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System