University of Pittsburgh
December 31, 2005

Eminent Pitt Law Professor Welsh White, Leading National Authority On the Death Penalty, Died Dec. 31

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 in the University's Heinz Chapel
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Welsh White, Bessie McKee Walthour Endowed Chair and professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, died Dec. 31. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 in Pitt's Heinz Chapel, followed by a reception at the School of Law Building, 3900 Forbes Ave. White, a leading national authority on the death penalty, began teaching at Pitt in 1968. He taught such courses as criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence.

"Welsh White was widely respected as one of the nation's leading experts on the death penalty and was one of the most distinguished faculty members in the long history of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, a former dean of Pitt's School of Law. "His carefully crafted scholarly work helped change views of the death penalty and the way that it is administered. He also was a devoted teacher, who was beloved by his students, and a committed colleague, who always found time to serve as a thoughtful and caring mentor. He will be sorely missed, both for his professional contributions and for his warm personal touch."

White, 65, was the author of three books on capital punishment, among them The Death Penalty in the Nineties: An Examination of the Modern System of Capital Punishment (University of Michigan Press, 1991), as well as numerous essays and scholarly articles on evidence and criminal procedure. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Columbia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, and Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review, among others.

White spent the last 10 years studying police interrogations and confessions. In his book Miranda's Waning Protections: Police Interrogation Practices after Dickerson (University of Michigan Press, 2001), White examined Miranda-the U.S. Supreme Court case that established rights of suspects upon arrest-and other Supreme Court confession cases, emphasizing the conflict between law enforcement and civil liberties. He had recently completed work on a new book, Litigating in the Shadow of Death: Defense Attorneys in Capital Cases, which will be published by the University of Michigan Press early in 2006; this book already won praise from Yale Kamisar, Clarence Darrow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, as "a most illuminating book by a splendid writer and an eminent critic of the capital punishment system."

Prior to joining Pitt's law faculty, White practiced law with the Philadelphia firm of White and Williams, which was founded by his grandfather. He also worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

In addition to his grandfather, White descends from another renowned legal expert. His father, William Wilson White, wrote the legal opinions supporting the use of federal troops in the school integration of Little Rock, Ark., and then served as the first head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights division during the Eisenhower administration.

While teaching full-time in Pitt's law school, Professor White represented or assisted in the representation of indigent defendants, particularly in capital cases.

White received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1962 and the Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965.