University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Sunday, October 23, 2011 - 9:39pm

Professor David Harris commented on the seizure of computers belonging to the State Senate in the continuing investigation into the conduct of State Sen. Jane Orie.  The Senate Republican Caucus had earlier taken possession of the computers issued to Orie.  Prosecutors will search the computers for evidence of who used them, allegedly with Senator Orie's password, to access and perhaps tamper with documents.  Professor Harris told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that "[t]he fact that they've gotten warrants and served them shows that they're following the trail wherever it leads them...Searching the information system of another branch of government is no small thing."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 2:50pm

Professor David Harris commented on a D.C. law that allows police to arrest any driver with an expired license tag.  D.C. appears to be the only place in the country with such a law, and the city has had it in place since the 1970s.  Police used the law in poor, crime-ridden areas such as Southeast D.C. against suspected drug dealers and criminals.  Complaints only surfaced when affluent people coming into D.C. from neighboring Virginia got a taste of the same treatment.  “Police operate with a greater sense of impunity in areas like Southeast because you’re not going to run into people who can make a lot of trouble if you arrest them, whereas in [affluent, mostly white] Northwest D.C., who knows who you might be arresting if you get somebody with an expired tag?”


Washington Post article link

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 2:22pm

Professor Arthur Hellman discussed the judicial vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Ninth Circuit, among the largest and busiest of the U.S. Courts of Appeal, now has five vacancies due to deaths and to judges taking senior status.  Nominations for these positions are proceeding quite slowly, Professor Hellman said, in comments that first appeared in the Los Angeles Times and later in the ABA Journal.  "What we don't know is whether that is because the president is not asking people or whether he is being turned down."


Link to ABA Journal article


Link to Los Angeles Times article

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 5:41pm

Professor Jessie Allen presented her work at the Michigan State University College of Law Junior Faculty Workshop, held October 7 in East Lansing, Michigan.  Professor Allen presented her current work in progress, "The Persistence of Proximate Cause."  All of the participating junior scholars were assigned to one of the MSU faculty's senior scholars, who read the junior person's work.  All of the junior scholars then presented their work in groups sessions; the senior scholars commented,  followed by a group discussion.  Junior scholars also attended the presentations of other junior participants, and commented as part of the group. 


More information on the MSU Junior Faculty Workshop: link

Monday, October 17, 2011 - 9:45am

Professors David Herring and Arthur Hellman discussed the constitutional nuts and bolts of a challenge to President Obama's health care overhaul bill that is likely to wind up this year before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In a front-page article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Professors Herring and Hellman explained exactly where this landmark legal case fits in relation to the Court's long history of commerce clause jurisprudence.  Professor Herring explained that he will be teaching these very issues to first-year law students in Pitt Law's new Lawyering course, and discussed what the students will see when surveying the constitutional landscape.  According to Professor Hellman, it is far from clear what the Court will do.  "You're talking about all of this case law interpreting the rather sparse language of the Constitution."

Post-Gazette article link 

Sunday, October 16, 2011 - 9:53pm

Professors Lu-in Wang and Ann Sinsheimer gave a presentation on Friday, October 14, at the University of Akron School of Law.  Professors Wang and Sinsheimer  discussed "Curricular Reform at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law," with a focus on Pitt's new Lawyering course for first-year students.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 9:36am

Professor Jules Lobel's article, "Prolonged Solitary Confinement and the Constitution," 11 U. Pa. J. Const. Law 115 (2011), was quoted and relied upon in a recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Toevs v. Reid 646 F. 3d. 752 (10th Cir 2011).  The Tenth Circuit relied on Professor Lobel's work in deciding that a prisoner held in solitary confinement has a right to meaningful reviews of his confinement.


Link to Professor Lobel's article in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 9:25am

Professor John Burkoff commented on the allegations of corruption against a Judge in Braddock, PA.  The charges, filed by the Allegheny County District Attorney, allege that the judge offered female litigants in his court favorable treatment in exchange for sexual favors.  Professor Burkoff told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that, if the allegations are true, they represent "the worst kind" of injustice imaginable.


Article in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: link

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 8:52pm

Professor Jules Lobel argued and won a case representing community activists who had gathered sufficient signatures to place a referendum on Peters Township's november ballot seeking to ban drilling in Marcellus Shale deposits. The Peters Township Council petitioned the Washington County Court of Common Pleas to remove the referendum from the ballot on the grounds that, if the ban was enacted by the voters, it would be unlawful.  On Monday, Oct 3, the Court rejected the Township's arguments and let the referendum proceed. Two students from Professor Lobel's Litigation and Social Change seminar wrote a draft reply brief in the case, attended oral argument in Washington County, and met with the community activists after the case to discuss their views of the role the case played in their activist efforts.


Articles about the case in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 8:33pm

Professor Larry Frolik will attend the Third National Guardianship Summit being held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on October 13 - 15. Professor Frolik has attended both prior National Guardianship Summits.  The first, “Wingspread”, was held in 1988 in Racine, Wisconsin.  Professor Frolik is a voting delegate at the Summit; he represent the Real Property Trust and Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association. He will present a paper at the Summit that he co-wrote with Professor Linda Whitton, entitled “Substitute Decision Making Standards for Guardians: Theory and Reality.”

Information on National Guardianship Summit: Link

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