University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

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.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 1:55pm

Pitt Law Professor David Garrow spoke at Birmingham's famous Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Thursday, September 12, as part of the City of Birmingham's 50th anniversary commemoration of the September 1963 bombing of the church in which four young women were killed. Joining Garrow on a panel discussing the legal impact of Birmingham's civil rights movement were Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Helen Shores Lee, whose father, Arthur Shores, was Birmingham's most prominent civil rights attorney during the 1950s and 1960s, and former U. S. Attorney Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the Ku Klux Klansmen who carried out the church bombing.

Read more about this event here.  


Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 9:53am

Professor Deborah Brake recently coauthored (with Joanna Grossman of Hofstra Law School) a column on Title IX and masculinity in sport, titled: "Playing 'Too Womany' and the Problem of Masculinity in Sport." The column was posted on Sept. 17, 2013, on Verdict's Legal Analysis and Commentary page at

Read the full story here.  


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.

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