University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 9:31am

Professor John Burkoff commented both Pittsburgh daily newspapers about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's 4-3 decision that a U.S. Supreme Court decision finding mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional was not retroactive. In the Post-Gazette, Burkoff said, ""This is an important decision affecting lots of people in critical ways. I truly doubt that this will be the last word on the matter. I think that the U.S. Supreme Court will want to weigh in on this issue, and that there's every chance that this decision will be reversed." In the Tribune Review, Burkoff added, "The fact that there is mixed law in the states and mixed law in the lower courts only heightens the probability that the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve this conflict. This isn't the end of the issue. I'm sure it will go up.”

Read the Post-Gazette article here or the Tribune-Review article here.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 1:58pm

A recent article covering the rapid growth of immigration law practice in the National Jurist magazine highlighted Pitt Law's own Immigration Law Clinic and extensively quoted Pitt Law Professor Sheila Vélez Martínez.
The article by National Jurist writer David Ogul states that those interested in the immigration law field should "go beyond the routine before they graduate" by exploring valuable comprehensive immigration law clinics such as the one provided by Pitt Law. 
"Legal clinics provide valuable hands-on experience to students," Professor Vélez Martínez says in the article. "They also allow students to network with practitioners in the area, with the agencies and with the court."
Ogul highlights in the article that at the University of Pittsburgh clinic, students perofrm all aspects of case prepration, including interviewing clients, writing pleadings, appearing in immigration court, appearing before administrative agencies and managing post-relief issues.
Read the rest of the National Jurist article here. Students interested in the Immigration Law Clinic can visit the Immigration Law Clinic page on the Pitt Law website.

Monday, October 28, 2013 - 9:21am

In an interview with the Associated Press, Professor David Harris discussed the long running grand jury investigation of the Steubenville (Ohio) rape case. Professor Harris said that although the investigation has been going on for five months, the amount of time that has elapsed is not unusual. The article appeared in the New York Daily News and many other publications.

Read the full article here.

Monday, October 28, 2013 - 9:11am

Professor David Harris was interviewed by Germany's ARD Television on the use of video and body worn video cameras by police in the U.S. A federal judge in New York has ordered the city's police department to conduct pilot studies of the use of body worn video cameras; Harris has written the only law review article on the use of these devices by police. Harris spoke to ARD journalists at the network's bureau in New York; his interview will become part of a documentary on American police and their use of technology. ARD is a large public broadcasting network in Germany.

For more on ARD, click here.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 9:42am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article raising the issue of why Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Castille is running for reelection to a 10-year term when he can only serve one year of that term due to mandatory retirement age rules. “The chief justice loves his job. And he's good at it,” Burkoff commented, “And there is no sign that he's slowing down.”

Read the full story here.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:59pm

Professor John Burkoff commented in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on a legislative initiative to amend the state Constitution to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. “We do ourselves a disservice by forcing retirement (of judges) so early,” Burkoff commented, “I think it would make a lot more sense to let judges stay on the bench longer, at least until the point where they actually show signs that they can no longer do the job effectively.”

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:15pm

Some federal courts have responded to the federal government “shutdown” by declaring all of their employees “essential.” Would judges in those courts have to disqualify themselves if presented with a legal challenge to similar decisions by executive branch agencies? The Wall Street Journal posed that question to Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert on federal courts. Hellman said that there could be an ethical question, particularly “if the judge presiding over such a dispute had a hand in crafting the court’s own shutdown policy.”
Hellman added: “Very likely any such suit would be thrown out on standing grounds, but you would still need judges to throw it out.”

Read the full article here.  

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 9:45am

David Garrow spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, October 10, as part of a 2-hour panel discussion of how the Freedom of Information Act and energetic litigation by news organizations can help expose long-buried secrets about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's use of paid informants targeted against the African-American civil rights movement from the 1950s into the 1970s. Joining Garrow on the panel were Marc Perrusquia of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, whose dogged investigative journalism exposed famous civil rights photographer Ernest Withers as a long-time, paid FBI information, Holland & Knight partner Charles D. Tobin, who undertook the Commercial Appeal's successful federal court litigation against the FBI, and E.W. Scripps Co. vice presidents Mizell Stewart III and David M. Giles, whose corporate-level support of Perrusquia and Tobin made the litigation possible.

The panel, sponsored by the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Committee, was videotaped by C-Span for national television broadcast sometime in late October.  Read more here.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 9:54am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Jane Orie Melvin who had not sent apologies to state judges that she was required to send as part of her sentence following conviction on charges of abuse of office. She argues that an apology would be an admission of guilt while her convictions are on appeal. The DA's Office argues that she already apologized at sentencing. Burkoff said that Orie Melvin's statement at sentencing was an "expression of remorse," not a "real apology at all." "It was one of those politicians' tactical apologies which really means 'I'm sorry I got caught.' We've heard this a million times before when politicians feel that they have to say something after they screwed up, but they don't want to really admit that they screwed up." Burkoff suggested two possible solutions -- Judge Nauhaus accept letters that read like her tactical apology, or wait until the conviction is upheld. "If Judge Nauhaus wants something more -- a real admission of wrongdoing, a mea culpa -- then he should wait until her appeals are over and her conviction is final before expecting to see that sort of admission."

Read the full story here.  

Friday, September 27, 2013 - 4:23pm

Associate Dean Tony Infanti published an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sept. 26, 2013, which is titled "The IRS v. Same-Sex Couples." The piece points out two serious problems with the IRS's recent guidance for same-sex couples. It highlights how same-sex couples in evasive marriages will need to pay for expensive legal advice to determine if they are married for federal tax purposes. It also encourages couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships to challenge the IRS's refusal to recognize their relationships.

Read the full op-ed here.  

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