University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 12:13pm

Professor Rhonda Wasserman was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding sanctions issued by a federal magistrate judge overseeing prison litigation against Allegheny County. The judge sanctioned an attorney representing the County for failing to provide the names of corrections officers who are prospective witnesses in the case. The judge’s order required the attorney to personally pay for the time opposing counsel spent drafting a motion to compel the county to provide the names. "’Most judges at some point will lose patience, especially if there doesn't seem to be any good reason not to comply with [a discovery] order,’ said Rhonda Wasserman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Read the full article here.  

Monday, February 17, 2014 - 10:00am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review about the inevitability of the ban on same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania being thrown out by the courts. “The final result of the litigation in Pennsylvania is foreordained, just as it is in every other state. The only truly open question now is how long it will take for the judicial process to grind to its inevitable conclusion,” said Burkoff.

Read the full article here.  



Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 3:18pm

A federal judge has filed a negligence suit against his dentist in District of Columbia Superior Court, and Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman talked to Legal Times of Washington (National Law Journal) about the unusual episode. The judge is Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

There are no ethics rules preventing judges from bringing lawsuits, said Hellman. “Judges don’t give up their rights as citizens when they become judges,” he said. It's uncommon to see a judge file a complaint, he added, “but it does happen.”

The case was filed in Superior Court, as opposed to the federal trial court in Washington. Silberman’s appearance as a plaintiff, then, didn't raise any automatic conflict issues, Hellman said. The presiding judge, Judge Stuart Nash, would be required to follow the same recusal rules as in any other case if the judge or parties identified any conflicts, he said.

Read the full article here.           


Monday, February 10, 2014 - 4:30pm

David Garrow had an essay in Sunday, February 9th's Washington Post 'Outlook' section reviewing two new books about civil rights history, Aram Goudsouzian's "Down to the Crossroads," on the 1966 Meredith March in Mississippi, and David Chappell's "Waking From the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr." This was Garrow's second article in the Post in the past three weeks.

Read the full essay here.  


Monday, February 10, 2014 - 1:36pm

Associate Dean Tony Infanti was interviewed on the BBC's Newshour program regarding the legal implications of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that the federal government will be expanding the recognition of same-sex marriages to cover criminal proceedings, bankruptcy proceedings, prisoner visitation, and compensation funds for slain police officers.  The opportunity for Infanti to speak with the BBC was facilitated by Jurist staff members.  

Listen to the full broadcast here or listen approximately 44 minutes in to hear Infanti.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 10:36am


The University of Pittsburgh School of Law has hired Assistant Professor David Thaw, a law and technology expert and frequent presenter on issues of cybersecurity, privacy regulation, and cybercrime. In addition to his position at Pitt Law, he will hold a secondary faculty appointment at the School of Information Sciences (SIS), further leveraging the interdisciplinary offerings of both schools. Thaw is currently an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Thaw will assume his position at Pitt on July 1, 2014.

David Thaw

“Professor Thaw’s teaching and scholarship at the intersection of law and technology, particularly with regard to privacy, information security, and cybercrime, is highly regarded and will further enhance our already-strong intellectual property program and Innovation Practice Institute,” said Pitt Law Dean William M. Carter Jr. “The fields of privacy and information security are growing areas of legal practice and employment, and Professor Thaw’s presence will therefore provide tremendous benefits for our students.

“They are also areas of strong regional excellence, as evidenced most recently by U.S. Attorney David Hickton’s announcement in May 2013 of the Pittsburgh Cyber Security Initiative, which will be a public-private collaboration to fuse regional resources to address these pressing issues. We are delighted to have Professor Thaw join us.”

Ronald Larsen, SIS dean and professor, agrees. “We have followed David’s academic trajectory now for a couple of years and have been consistently impressed with his scholarly insights and rigorous analysis of extraordinarily complex legal issues involving information systems. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Pitt faculty.”

Thaw earned his JD at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, School of Law. He holds a PhD in information management and systems and an MA in political science, both from UC Berkeley. He earned undergraduate degrees in government and computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Professor Thaw practiced cybersecurity and privacy regulatory law at what was then Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C., was a research associate with the University of Maryland computer science faculty and Maryland Cybersecurity Center, and is a technology entrepreneur. Thaw has taught courses in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and administrative law while at the University of Connecticut.

In addition to testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding his work in cybersecurity regulation, Thaw has conducted in-depth interviews with chief privacy and information security officers at major U.S. firms as part of a research project. His current projects examine the efficacy of cybersecurity regulation and reform of cybercrime statutes. Thaw has authored numerous articles in publications such as the Washington Law Review, Duke Law & Technology Review, Georgia State University Law Review, and Yale Law Journal Online.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining the University of Pittsburgh,” said Thaw. “There are very few universities in the world that could put together the research and teaching opportunities Pitt Law and the School of Information Sciences have developed. This collaboration will allow Pitt students to receive training available in very few places and both schools to collaborate on answers to important law, policy, and technological questions that have worldwide impact.”


Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 11:05am

Professor John Burkoff was mentioned in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article and a Toledo Blade article about the one-million dollar bond set for an accused person who killed a police dog. Realistically, a bond set at $1 million, said Burkoff, is the same as denying bond.

“Bail is supposed to be used strictly to ensure that the accused shows up for judicial proceedings,” Mr. Burkoff said. “Bail of $1 million is unusually high, even in a homicide case. Effectively, for most people, it’s the equivalent of no bail at all because most people can’t arrange for that kind of bond.”

Burkoff also said he would expect that the amount would be lowered.

Read the full Toledo Blade article here and the full Post-Gazette article here.   


Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 3:59pm

Professor David Harris told National Public Radio's Fronteras Project about the costs of court-ordered changes for the Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona Sheriff's Department. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his agency were found liable for multiple forms of discrimination in law enforcement against Latinos, and the court-ordered remedies, including the appointment of an independent monitor and large-scale structural reforms, will cost over twenty million dollars. Arpaio and his allies have complained, but Professor Harris says the cost is the direct result of years of unchecked bad behavior by the Sheriff's Department; the upside is that the prescribed changes could remake the Department into a much better and more effective organization. 

The Fronteras Project produces stories on the changing face of the nation as seen in the American Southwest.  Read the full story or listen to the audio clip here.  



Monday, January 27, 2014 - 9:43am

An oversight panel in the federal judiciary has referred a misconduct complaint against a recently retired federal judge to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman commented on this unusual development in stories published in the ABA Journal, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That is stunning,” Hellman said. “I’m still trying to absorb [the fact] that the federal judiciary has referred one of their own judges to the public integrity section.” The proceeding began when the current chief judge of the Sixth Circuit initiated a complaint against fellow Judge Boyce Martin asserting that he had requested and received reimbursement for questionable travel expenses. The complaint was transferred to the Judicial Council of the Second Circuit, which initiated an investigation. Two weeks before a scheduled hearing by the investigating committee, Judge Martin resigned from the bench. In light of that resignation, the Judicial Council concluded the proceeding but referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

Read more details here and here.  


Friday, January 24, 2014 - 4:43pm

The Pittsburgh Business Times published an article Friday by Pitt Professor of Law, Michael Madison. The article titled, “Getting to lawyers who say ‘yes, and …’” relates how Pittsburgh needs more lawyers versed in innovative businesses to help startup companies bring their ideas to fruition. Madison - who in the 1990s was a Silicon Valley lawyer before later coming to Pittsburgh - is now the Faculty Director of the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law.

An innovation-minded lawyer in many ways means a lawyer with interdisciplinary acumen, meaning they’re able to “synthesize their knowledge of multiple areas of the law,” Madison writes, and hold a deep understanding of their clients’ businesses, markets and visions.

“In 2009, we established the Innovation Practice Institute in Pitt’s School of Law to teach our students how to become innovation lawyers,” Madison states in the article. “Pittsburgh has lots of lawyers well-versed in the intricacies of employment law, patent law and corporate finance. It has too few lawyers who are innovation lawyers at prices that startup ventures can reasonably afford.”

Learn more about the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law here

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