University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 12:28pm

Professor Alan Meisel to American Medical News that a case in which a surgical patient showed signs of a lack of competency for decision making raises difficult questions for treating physicans and surgeons.  In a Montana case, doctors recommended life-saving surgery to save a woman from cancer, but she refused; a judge ordered her to undergo the surgery, finding the woman incompetent.  The Montana Supreme Court has stayed that ruling, pending appeal.  Professor Meisel said that although it is ultimately up to a judge to decide a patient's competency, "[i]f doctors have reason to believe a patient lacks decision-making capacity, they should do something" to bring it to the attention of appropriate authorities, he said. "It could be considered an abrogation of their duty to ignore it."


Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 12:20pm

Professor John Burkoff told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the payment of judges' expenses to attend and speak at conferences resort-type locations is not unethical.  "Sometimes these things look bad when they really aren't," he said, noting some limits. "I certainly agree there's always a line where it gets excessive, if the meeting is in Galapagos, and (the judge's) family is coming and he or she is speaking for an hour."



Monday, April 4, 2011 - 9:37am

A senior judge is a regular judge who, upon qualifying for retirement, decides to semi-retire instead by taking a reduced caseload.  Since senior status bars them from working in the private legal sector, they forgo lucrative jobs as private mediators, said University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman, who studies the federal court system.

"They're working -- really -- for nothing," he said. "They really are doing a public service."

Read the full article here

Friday, April 1, 2011 - 9:40am

Pitt Law Professor Debbie Brake is the 2011 recipient of the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement.  The Young Award for Political Engagement honors Iris Marion Young, a philosopher and social theorist of international renown.  Young was a professor in GSPIA during the 1990s before taking a position as Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago in 2000.  She died in 2006 of cancer.


At Pitt, Young was a galvanizing presence, active in the Women’s Studies Program as well as within GSPIA. During her time in Pittsburgh, Young volunteered and organized on behalf of peace and social justice, fair labor practices, adult literacy, and children’s rights, among other causes, and she worked to combat hate groups and poverty.


GSPIA and the Women’s Studies Program inaugurated the award in 2008 to honor Young’s memory and recognize a member of the Pitt community whose actions have had political impact within the University or beyond.


Sponsorship for this award is done so through the Women's Studies Program, Center for Metropolitan Studies Program, University Center for Social and Urban Research, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Cultural Studies Program, and the Department of Sociology.

Friday, April 1, 2011 - 9:36am

Last week’s rejection of the proposed settlement of the lawsuit between Google and a group of authors and publishers has thrown the future of the Google Book database into question. A federal court in New York declined to approve the settlement, recognizing that while there was a benefit to society from the widespread digitization of books, the proposal “simply went too far.” The court indicated that the settlement was a “forward-looking business arrangement” that would give Google too much power to exploit books at the expense of authors’ rights to control their copyrights.


Read Professor Pike's full article here

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 10:54am

Professor Anthony Infanti presented a paper on March 30 at a symposium at Georgetown University Law Center. The symposium, organized by the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, covered the intersection of tax law, gender, and sexuality. Professor Infanti, the principal presenter for the panel on the intersection of tax with sexual orientation and gender identity, discussed his paper entitled “LGBT Taxpayers:  A Collision of ‘Others.”

Link to the symposium program

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 4:27pm

Professor Rhonda Wasserman commented on a federal court order permitting lawyers to file under seal all documents relating to a class action settlement.   The order shields from public scrutiny not only the terms of the settlement, but also the notice of the settlement, any transcripts of hearings regarding the fairness of the settlement, and any objections to the settlement filed by class members.  Professor Wasserman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that such secrecy is at odds with the public scrutiny needed to protect the interests of absent class members who are not directly involved in the negotiation of the settlement.


 Read the full story here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 11:00am

West Publishing Company has just published Professor John Burkoff’s new casebook: Criminal Law: A Contemporary Approach.  This casebook is the newest addition to West’s Interactive Casebook Series.  West’s “interactive” texts are made available to students simultaneously in hardcopy and online editions.  The online edition includes extensive hyper-linking to cases, statutes, other legal materials, and supplementary online resources, e.g. oral arguments of cases.  Professor Burkoff’s co-authors on this book are Russell Weaver at Louisville and Catherine Hancock at Tulane.

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 11:04am

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review highlighted the annual Distinguished Intellectual Property Lecture on March 24 at Pitt Law, and Professor Dan Burk of UC Irvine, this year’s speaker, in a piece that talked about the event’s sponsor, the Innovation Practice Institute, and the IPI’s goals for supporting the region’s innovation economy.

Professor Burk’s lecture focused on legal issues surrounding virtual worlds and videogame technologies.  During his visit to Pittsburgh he also met with faculty and students at the Entertainment Technology Center, a program of Carnegie Mellon University.


Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 11:05am

Professor Benjamin Bratman commented on a local woman’s suit against an employer that required her to take religious training sessions as part of her employment. According to her suit, the woman worked successfully as for the bathroom remodeling company, but when she refused to continue attending the training, the company forced her out. Professor Bratman said that once the burden shifts to the company to explain its actions, it would have a difficult time explaining why the religious training is necessary to the company’s operation. “What in the world does religious proselytizing and religion have to do with remodeling bathrooms?”


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