University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Monday, September 23, 2013 - 10:32am

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an important opinion clarifying the issue of federal recognition of Indian tribes, Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman told the Associated Press. The court issued a revised opinion in a criminal case.

"The court has now said that these tribes, as a matter of law, are recognized by the federal government, and that doesn't need to be proven," Hellman said. He added that “this opinion solely depends on whether the government provided sufficient evidence that [the defendant in this case] is derived from that tribe.”

Read the full article here.          


Friday, September 13, 2013 - 2:43pm

AP has put out a story on the Pittsburgh Zoo's legal filing in which Professor John Burkoff has observed: "The fact that a horrible and tragic death of a child occurred at the zoo does not mean necessarily that the death was completely or even partially the zoo's fault," University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff said Thursday. "The fact that the court of public opinion may have ruled already against the zoo is, and should be, irrelevant to the legal process."

To view the published version with ABC News, click here.  




Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 10:27am

Professors David Harris and John Burkoff commented in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on the ongoing grand jury investigation into the Pittsburgh Mayor's office. With respect to the testimony of the Mayor's Chief of Staff before the grand jury, Professor Harris said the only thing the public can deduce from Zober's appearance is that, “the case is still very much alive. That's really it. Grand jury proceedings are secret, as you know, so only Zober could tell us what he was asked.” Professor Burkoff added, “It's not a good sign for the mayor, certainly.”

Read more here.  



Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:21pm

On September 6, 2013, Assistant Professor Charles C. Jalloh was the invited expert on the Africa 54 program hosted by Vincent Makori’s for Voice of America TV in Washington. He discussed the implications of Kenya’s parliamentary vote last week urging the government to withdraw the influential East African nation from the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). He explained that, contrary to what Kenyan politicians have been leading their people to believe, withdrawal from the treaty that has so far been endorsed by 122 countries (including 34 African States) will not affect the ICC’s pending crimes against humanity prosecutions of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto. In his view, this attempt to politicize the work that the ICC is carrying out on behalf of over 1,300 innocent Kenyans killed in the 2007-2008 post-election violence will be a step backward in the fight against impunity in Africa. 

Friday, September 6, 2013 - 11:30am

A year and a half after the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council initiated a judicial misconduct proceeding involving a Montana judge who forwarded a “racist” email involving President Barack Obama, it appears that the matter is under consideration at the national level – but there is no official word. The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune asked Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert on the federal judiciary, for his explanation.

According to the Tribune’s story, Hellman said the process to this point suggest the 9th Circuit’s initial investigation revealed findings more serious than an isolated incident involving a single distasteful email.

“I continue to believe that it has to be something more serious,” Hellman said. “The fact that the review process is continuing and that it has extended over this period of time suggests that. You don’t need a prolonged investigation like this to determine that one email constituted misconduct, particularly when that judge is no longer a judge.”

Read the full story here.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:23pm



For its 45th anniversary, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity will recognize 45 law schools, 45 law firms and 45 individuals who have played a critical role in supporting CLEO since 2000. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law will be among those recognized at a reception Sept. 26 which will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.


CLEO was founded in 1968 as a project with the mission to ensure an education pipeline for minority and low-income students exhibiting the aptitude and passion to pursue a career in law. Its funding has been provided in part by the federal government until the year 2000 when its funds were reduced. The ABA Fund for Justice and Education stepped in to save CLEO along with a consortium of law schools, Pitt Law being among the strongest law school contributors since the project’s inception.


Pitt Law will be represented at the CLEO reception in D.C. by Associate Dean of Students Kevin Deasy who has been the School’s primary liaison with CLEO for almost 20 years.


Deasy said the School’s relationship with CLEO has been mutually beneficial, providing a home for many qualified and deserving law students who have come through the program.


“CLEO has provided us with top-notch students,” Deasy said. “Many of the CLEO Fellows we have worked with have overcome significant obstacles in attaining academic success, including students who grew up in foster care or low income housing projects, were homeless for parts of their lives, had parents who were incarcerated, or escaped oppression and fear of death or imprisonment as refugees from foreign nations in turmoil.”


Pitt Law has had a close relationship with CLEO since its inception in the 1960s and has hosted many CLEO Pre-Law Summer Institutes where Pitt’s esteemed law faculty have challenged dozens of CLEO Fellows students with an intensive six-week legal program before entering Pitt’s JD program. Pitt Law has also sent faculty like Deasy and Robert Berkley Harper to serve on CLEO faculties at both Dickinson School of Law (prior to its merger with Penn State) and the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Law.


“The Law School has been a good academic home for many of these students,” Deasy said. “And these students have enormously enriched the Pitt Law community. Many of the students we have recruited through the CLEO program have gone on to outstanding legal careers, including one who is a senior attorney with Microsoft Corporation and another who is the executive director of the Newark, New Jersey, Housing Authority.”


For more information about CLEO, visit



Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 9:35am

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument this summer in an appeal by Google, Inc., challenging a ruling that Google may have broken federal wiretap laws. One of the judges on the appellate panel is Jay S. Bybee, who as a lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration drafted legal justification for secret Government wiretap activities. The Daily Journal (San Francisco) asked Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an authority on judicial ethics, whether this posed a conflict of interest.

Hellman said there was probably no conflict. He quoted the provision in the Judicial Code that addresses participation in judicial decisions by former Government officials and noted that it is “narrow.” He added, “By implication, it would allow [Bybee’s] participation here.” Hellman continued: “That said, if the Google appeal involves the constitutionality or interpretation of statutory provisions that Judge Bybee helped to draft during his years at [the Office of Legal Counsel], I think that the general disqualification provision [in] section 455 (a) might suggest recusal. But if he just worked on legislation involving similar subject matter, I don’t think that would create a conflict.”

The article is subscription-only.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 9:22am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the question whether Pennsylvania public officials have to follow Pennsylvania law that does not permit same-sex marriages. “Every individual public servant can't decide for himself or herself what the law is. It'd be chaos,” Burkoff said. But, "[w]hat makes bans on same-sex marriage different from most other laws," Burkoff added, "are rapid changes in public opinion in favor of the unions, the progress of legislation striking down the bans and the growing body of court decisions striking them down — all of which point to the bans' eventual disappearance."

Read the full article here.  

Friday, August 30, 2013 - 3:41pm

Pitt Law Assistant Professor Charles C. Jalloh has been named this year’s recipient of the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Faculty Scholar Award. The BIR award, which is supported by a top ranked Pittsburgh-based national law firm, is aimed at supporting faculty at Pitt Law to carry out a substantial scholarly project that addresses a controversy within the law or that has major impact on the legal community as a whole or the city of Pittsburgh in particular.

Jalloh plans to use the award towards a high-visibility collaborative project aimed at identifying best practices for the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s only permanent criminal tribunal.  The project, which has already begun and will be carried out over the coming year, is being undertaken in collaboration with the International Bar Association and with faculty members from other law schools. 

Jalloh joined Pitt Law in 2009. Since then, he has been part of ongoing efforts to help build a program in this fast growing area of international law at the law school. As part of this, he has pursued scholarly research as well as sought innovative learning opportunities for Pitt students. These included taking 11 students on a field trip to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania in March 2010, helping CILE to arrange for several tribunal leaders, including two former chief prosecutors (Hassan B. Jallow and Stephen J. Rapp) and the former ICTR president (Erik Mose), to visit the law school in 2010 and 2011, respectively, as well as convening the first major international conference to assess the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in April 2012. The latter resulted in a substantial book that is the first to assess the contributions of the SCSL to international criminal law, published by Cambridge University Press.

His impetus to take up identifying lessons learned for the ICC comes from his commitment to finding practical solutions to real world problems. “I was pleasantly surprised to have been selected for this competitive award by the Dean [William “Chip” Carter], from undoubtedly many other deserving proposals from my faculty colleagues”, he said. “I am grateful to Dean Carter for his foresight in recognizing that this type of research has the potential to make a big impact on a young field like international criminal law, and particularly so for a new court like the ICC, which is still going through growing pains.” He went on to say, “I thank the partners and lawyers at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney for their leadership role supporting faculty scholarship here at Pitt Law, and for recognizing that with a little help, legal academics could play an important role carrying out research that may help advance the law - here at home, as well as abroad. I hope that other Pittsburgh area firms will emulate their excellent example, and look forward to sharing the results of our research with them.” 

The collaborative study will benefit from Jalloh’s experience practicing international criminal law at both the domestic and international levels. He started his career as Counsel at the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, from where he went on to serve as the Defense Legal Advisor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), an Associate Legal Officer in Trial Chamber I at the ICTR, and as a Visiting Professional at the ICC. At the SCSL, he had the honor of representing the former Liberian President Charles Taylor as a court-appointed duty counsel and, at the ICTR, he was part of the small team of attorneys that assisted the Trial Chamber with judgment drafting in the cases involving Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the “architect” of the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide, and four other senior military officers from the Rwandan army who masterminded the killing of up to a million people in just 100 days.

Professor Jalloh has published several books and articles in the area of international and criminal law. He holds various pro bono positions serving, inter alia, on the Advisory Panel to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; the Advisory Board of the War Crimes Committee, International Bar Association; and as an elected Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law’s International Criminal Law Interest Group.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 10:41am

Dean Carter's article, "Trust Me, I'm a Judge," was cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The decision and the article involve the permissibility under the Due Process Clause, the Sixth Amendment, and the Federal Rules of Evidence, of a judge rather than the jury making findings of fact supporting a criminal defendant's conviction.

The decision can be viewed here.

The article, which arose out of Dean Carter's experience litigating such issues, can be found here.

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