University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 5:51am

Professor John Burkoff commented in The Legal Intelligencer on the effects of the charges against State Sen. Jane Orie on her sister, Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.  The original charges, involving campaign work on state time, focused on Jane Orie's activities in Joan Orie Melvin's campaign for the state Supreme Court; Justice Orie Melvin has not been charged.  But according to Professor Burkoff, the ordeal has undoubtedly taken an emotional toll on Justice Orie Melvin.  Beyond that, Justice Orie Melvin could face her own legal troubles. "We know from what the Allegheny County district attorney has filed so far...[and we] also know that they're still investigating. What we don't know is whether they're going to bring charges against [Orie Melvin]."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 10:17am

KDKA's Mike Pintek interviewed Pitt Law Professor John Burkoff on the topic of Richard Baumhammer’s recent attempt to obtain a new trial or sentencing hearing.  The focus of the discussion was a comparison of how Pennsylvania and Texas move the cases along of convicted killers on death row.  Should Pennsylvania move more quickly?  Burkoff argued that it should not.  


Listen to the interview here.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 7:44am

Professor Ronald Brand commented in the Philadelphia Business Journal and Pittsburgh Business Times on Pennsylvania rules for foreign lawyers taking the bar exam.  "In Pennsylvania, we're shooting ourselves in the foot by basically encouraging the best foreign lawyers to go to New York.   It hurts our competitiveness and it makes it harder for Pennsylvania to get advice on how to do business overseas.  It also creates a disadvantage for Pennsylvania law schools trying to attract the best students."  

Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 11:55am

Professor Anthony Infanti was elected Vice Chair of the Teaching Taxation Committee of the ABA's Section of Taxation in August of 2011.

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:41pm

Professor Douglas Branson was the featured guest on the Israeli Public Radio weekly financial program, “Goldstein on Gelt.”   The half hour interview was recorded on July 22 and aired July 29.  Professor Branson discussed his books on corporate governance and on women in corporate governance roles, including his latest book on the subject, The Last Male Bastion: Gender and the CEO Suite at America’s Public Companies, which evidently has attracted somewhat of a following in Israel.

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:26pm

Professor David Harris commented on the denial of State Senator Jane Orie's appeal of a double jeopardy issue that arose out of her trial on political corruption charges.  When Orie's defense attorney offered evidence that seemed to contained forged signatures, the trial judge declared a mistrial; Orie then argued that there should be no retrial, on the basis of double jeoparday.  The trial judge denied her motion, and she appealed.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed, and Professor Harris explained that any further appeal would be even less likely to succeed than the argument in front of either the trial judge or the Superior Court.


Link to the article

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:21pm

The 2011 edition of Professors John Burkoff’s and Nancy Burkoff’s treatise, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, was just published by West.  With this new edition, this treatise, which was first published in 1993, moves from a hardcover, binder format with annual supplementation to a softcover format, with a new edition published each year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 4:43pm

Criminal Law Professor John Burkoff talks to multiple media outlets not only about the 16 counts of forgery, perjury, tampering and/or fabricating evidence, against State Senator Jane Orie, but also about how this new case will tie into a retrial of the original case dealing with the potential misuse of public office resources for campaign work.    

Of the new charges, Burkoff suggests that without direct evidence, it will be hard for the district attorney’s office to prove that Orie forged documents. 

“To actually show that she did it, well, that has to be arrived at circumstantially and that’s not an easy leap for everyone.”

Burkoff explains that proving perjury is difficult not only must Orie have testified falsely, but also, Burkoff says, “the person who made these misstatements [must] actually believe they were false. So, one of the defenses you could have to that [would be], ‘Oh I may have said the wrong thing but I actually believed it.’”

A decision regarding whether to try the two potential cases together or separately will be a difficult choice, Burkoff thinks. 

Watch the KDKA interview with Jon Delano here. 

Read the Post-Gazette article here. 

Read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article here.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 4:18pm

With Former House Speaker John Perzel poised to plead guilty in an 82-count indictment as of August 30th, Pitt Law Professor John Burkoff explains to multiple media sources why it is that he believes the plea in the case makes sense for prosecutors as well as why others who were charged with felonies will have little choice but to plead guilty, too. 

“One, there’s the certainty of the conviction ... and the savings that brings in terms of time, expense and angst,” said Burkoff. “Two, in these cases you’re talking about felonies with dollar amounts where they are presumably satisfied that he’ll get a significant jail sentence.” 


Burkoff goes on to explain why, in his opinion, he feels the nine other Republicans who were charged with felonies in November 2009 will also plead guilty to charges of conflict of interest, theft, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 


"[Perzel’s plea] tells me it's pretty hard for the remaining defendants not to consider plea agreements," he says. 


Read the Post-Gazette story here.


Read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story here.


Read the Patriot-News story here.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 10:45am

Professor John Burkoff discussed the new set of charges against State Senator Jane Orie filed yesterday.  The charges stem from the discovery that several documents offered as defense evidence in Orie's trial on political corruption charges six months ago were fraudulent.  The discovery of the fraud caused a mistrial, and the corruption case will be retried.  The new case stems from the alteration of the documents, allegedly by Orie, and from allegedly perjured testimony by Orie in the trial unrelated to the documents.  Professor Burkoff commented on the case in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and also discussed the difficulties of proving the case live on KQV AM radio.


Link to Tribune-Review story

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