Richard H. Underwood, American legal scholar and legal nonfiction and true crime writer, is the Edward T. Breathitt Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. His most recent book is Gaslight Lawyers: Criminal Trials & Exploits in Gilded Age New York. He is also the author of CrimeSong: True Crime Stories from Southern Murder Ballads (2016), the recipient of two IPPY Book of the Year Awards and winner of a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award (Bronze, True Crime).
Underwood was born in Columbus, Ohio, where he grew up and attended college and law school. He graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University in 1969 and then entered the army. He served four years, with tours of duty in Germany and Vietnam, and later served as the security officer at the Presidio of San Francisco. Underwood left the army with the rank of captain, and he received a number of decorations, including the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star. He then attended the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. After law school, Richard Underwood served as a law clerk for the Honorable David S. Porter, a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in Cincinnati. He practiced several years with the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease in Columbus, Ohio, before taking a teaching position at the College of Law, University of Kentucky.
Professor Underwood has made many presentations, including a Musicology lecture, “Murdered Girls,” dealing with legal cases memorialized in Southern murder ballads, at the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music (2011), in addition to lectures at the Second World Conference on New Trends in Criminal Investigation and Evidence (1999) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Worldwide Advocacy Conference (1998) at the Inns of Court School of Law, in London, England. In 2011, Underwood presented at the Bob Dylan and the Law Symposium, co-sponsored by the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics, Touro Law Center, and the Fordham Urban Law Journal, in New York City.
He has taught a variety of courses, including Evidence, Scientific and Forensic Evidence, Litigation Skills (Trial Advocacy), Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Insurance Law, Remedies, Law and Medicine, Bioethics, and Professional Responsibility (Legal Ethics). His legal publications include many law review articles, and he is the co-author of three legal practice books. Professor Richard Underwood has received special awards from the Kentucky Supreme Court for his work on the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct (1989) and for his service as the chairman of the Kentucky Bar Association Ethics and Unauthorized Practice Committees (1998).