Sarah spent the first 18 years of her life in Helenwood, Tennessee. She is the youngest of five daughters to Leslie and (the late) Peggy Pickens Winningham. Her father was a high school principal and State Representative. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom for many years and later worked as a secretary. Her sisters all work in some capacity in education or at an educational institution. Her oldest sister, Carrie, teaches kindergarten in Richmond, Virginia. Allison is a Vice Principal of an elementary school in Overton County, Tennessee and Shannon works in Coordinated School Heath in Warren County. Sarah’s twin-sister Jennifer is the Associate Head Athletic Trainer at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
In 2009, Sarah married Joseph Keith, an officer in the Tennessee Air National Guard, and they reside in the Karns area of Knox County with their two rescue cats, Clyde and Scotch. She is an enthusiastic sports fan. Growing up in East Tennessee and earning her law degree from UT, it is no surprise that she is passionate in her support of the Tennessee Vols. She also loves the Atlanta Braves and Tennessee Titans. Her love of sports belies her complete lack of athletic ability. What she lacks in coordination, she makes up in her sense of humor. She is an avid runner, mostly due to her affinity for pizza. She’s always in pursuit of a personal best and considers every run where she doesn’t break, strain, or tear something a victory. She enjoys volunteering for a number of local non-profits, kayaking, spending time in East Tennessee as well as travelling to new parts of the country.
EDUCATION & CAREER
Sarah attended Scott County public schools, attending Huntsville Elementary and Huntsville Middle School and then graduating from Scott High School in 1999. She continued her education at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. While at TTU, she was elected Student Government Association President, received the Derryberry Award, and was active in many organizations including Kappa Delta Sorority, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, and the Presbyterian Student Association among others. She graduated with a B.S. in Political Science in 2003. She then attended the University of Tennessee College of Law and received her Doctor of Jurisprudence with a concentration in Advocacy and Dispute Resolution in 2006. While in law school, Sarah clerked with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office, working in the Domestic Violence Unit, Felony Sessions, Bonded Arraignment, Cited Court, and in the three Criminal Courts. Additionally, she volunteered for the Saturday Bar Pro Bono Project, was Vice President for Phi Alpha Delta, International Law Fraternity, and received the Colonel R. McDonald Gray Scholarship.
Sarah Keith was admitted to the Bar of the State of Tennessee in 2006. She was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2011. She spent her first year as an Assistant District Attorney in the 10th Judicial District, comprised of Bradley, Polk, McMinn, and Monroe Counties. She handled dockets in multiple counties with cases in both Sessions and Circuit Court, following the cases from charging decisions through conducting multiple jury trials.
Following a year in the 10th District, Sarah moved back to Knox County, where she was hired in the 6th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office. While continually seeking justice for Knox Countians for nearly 15 years, Sarah has worked in a number of positions, from general prosecution to special unit assignments concentrating on Driving Under the Influence, Career Offenders, Gang Members, and Child Abuse cases. She has handled cases of all types ranging from misdemeanors to murders. She has served on boards including but not limited to the Vehicular Fatality Investigative Review Board, Tennessee Gang Investigators Association, Child Fatality Review, and the Child Protective Investigative Team. In her career she has reviewed countless search warrants, conducted preliminary hearings, motion hearings, and approximately 60-70 jury trials. She was awarded the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Prosecutor of the Year and named a CityView Magazine Top Attorney four times. Recently, Sarah took a leap of faith and started her own private law practice, The Law Office of Sarah W. Keith, where she handles criminal and civil matters.
Her success and ability in the courtroom have resulted in her being sought out frequently to teach and present at a local and state level. She believes education of lawyers, officers, and citizens increases the effectiveness of our court system for everyone. She has presented continuing legal education to members of the Knoxville Bar Association, the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, and the American Prosecutors Research Institute. She has served as a faculty member for New Prosecutors Academy with TDAGC and for the Trial Advocacy School in partnership with the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law. She has presented lecture and training for the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, the Tennessee Department of Corrections Security Threat Group/Investigations and Intelligence Annual Training, the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association, and the law enforcement academies of Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland State Law Enforcement Training Academy, and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority Department of Public Safety. Further, she has presented or guest lectured for the District Attorney General’s Office Citizens Academy, Pellissippi State Community College, and numerous Knox County Schools. She is active in the Knoxville Bar Association, serving as the Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice Section, and as a member of the Judicial Committee and the Governors Award Committee. She also belongs to the Tennessee Bar Association, the Knox County Schools Criminal Justice Program Advisory Council, and the American Inns of Court. In addition to all of this, she worked as an adjunct instructor of Legal Ethics at South College and serves on the South College Criminal Justice Advisory Board.