Penny White

Professor Emerita
Penny White
Contact Information
Law 302
  • Advocacy
  • Capital Punishment
  • Criminal Law
  • Judicial Ethics
  • Judicial Selection
  • Legal Ethics
  • State Courts and Procedure

Penny White

Professor Emerita

Areas of Expertise

Advocacy, Capital Punishment, Criminal Law, Judicial Ethics, Judicial Selection, Legal Ethics, State Courts and Procedure


LL.M. (Advocacy), 1987, Georgetown University Law Center

J.D., 1981, University of Tennessee

B.S., 1978, East Tennessee State University


Until her retirement in 2022, Penny White was the Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law and served as the director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the University of Tennessee College of Law. She taught courses in evidence, trial practice, pretrial litigation, and negotiation, and assisted with the law school’s various clinical and externship programs.

She lectures around the country at legal and judicial education programs on each of these areas as well as about capital punishment jurisprudence and ethics and professionalism issues.

Before beginning her teaching career, White practiced law in a small firm and as a solo practitioner focusing on criminal defense, civil rights, and family law. While a solo practitioner, she successfully argued in the United States Supreme Court. After leaving private practice, she served as a judge at every level of the court system in Tennessee, serving as the first female Circuit Judge in the First Judicial District and the second woman to serve on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court.

While at UT, White has received the university’s Jefferson Prize for excellence in research and creative activity and the Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award; at the law school, she has received the Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, the Yarbrough Award for Writing Excellence, and the Carden Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and Outstanding Service to the Institution. The National Judicial College, where she teaches regularly, has awarded her the Advancement of Justice Award and the V. Robert Payant Award for Teaching Excellence.

White has published numerous articles on evidence, criminal procedure, and ethics, including her article “Relinquished Responsibilities” which was published in Volume 123 of the Harvard Law Review. She has also co-authored a benchbook for judges on Capital Trials and solely authored a book on the defense of capital cases, for which she was awarded the Ritchie Award by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


  • Publications

Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

Full list of SSRN scholarly papers