University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 11:43am

Professor Jessie Allen was quoted in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story about the City of Greensburg's lawsuit against a man who previously filed a federal civil rights claim against the city alleging police brutality. The man's federal claim was dismissed, and the city took the unusual action of filing a separate action in state court, trying to recoup legal fees.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 9:42am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on the significance of Pitt professor and homicide accused, Robert Ferrante's, decision to no longer seek a venue for his homicide trial outside of Allegheny County.

Read the full article here.  


Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 3:11pm

Professor Deborah Brake was quoted in the Tribune Review on Sept. 1, 2014, in a story about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the case, Young v. UPS, which will soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the full story here.  


Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 3:01pm

The arrest of an Atlanta federal judge on spousal abuse charges has called attention to the process for dealing with misconduct by federal judges. The Daily Report, the American Law Media newspaper in Atlanta, called on Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman for expert analysis.

“The days of looking the other way about allegations of misconduct, those are over,” said Hellman, who has testified before Congress on matters of federal judicial discipline. He said U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller could receive a public reprimand from the judicial council of the Eleventh Circuit.

Hellman noted that even if Fuller is acquitted of the misdemeanor charge of family violence, the circuit council can still issue a rebuke, which Hellman said is significant, especially since that is so rare.

Hellman added that those considering Fuller’s case at the Eleventh Circuit likely will be keeping in mind that they don’t necessarily have the final word on Fuller’s fate. Hellman said the Judicial Conference’s national committee on judicial misconduct has taken a more robust oversight role in recent years, following recommendations that led to adoption of new nationally binding rules in 2008.

Read the full article here.              


Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 11:21am

Dean William M. Carter, Jr. has received the Leadership Diversity Award from the National Diversity Council and the Pennsylvania Diversity Council. Criteria for the award include an extraordinary background of developing and improving organizations, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and fairness, serving as a role model for other individuals in the profession, inspiring a shared vision, and fostering innovation.

Awardees will be recognized at the 2014 Leadership Excellence Awards Luncheon, which will be held at the University of Pittsburgh on October 29, 2014.

Read more about the award here.  



Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 4:37pm

One of the judges recently appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will have her chambers in San Jose, rather than at the “iconic” court headquarters in San Francisco. This development prompted the Recorder, the California legal newspaper of American Law Media, to look at judges who “stray from headquarters” in establishing their chambers. The Recorder asked Pitt Law Professor Arthur Hellman, an expert on the Ninth Circuit, to comment.

Circuit judges were once encouraged to deliberate under the same roof, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit famously prodding new appointees to relocate to Chicago, Hellman noted. But that philosophy has lost traction as telecommuting takes hold, he said.

“The idea that judges should move to the seat of the court would just seem laughable to some people now,” he observed.

Hellman also noted that when judges move into existing courthouses, it can pay dividends for circuit judges to work alongside their peers in the lower courts.

“There’s a natural tension between appellate and district court judges,” he said. “If they’re in the same building having lunch together now and again, I think it promotes understanding.”

Read the full story here.  


Monday, August 18, 2014 - 11:12am

Pitt Law Professor and Distinguished Faculty Scholar David A. Harris, a legal expert in police misconduct and accountability, was interviewed for an NBC Nightly News segment covering the Ferguson, Missouri police brutality crisis. The segment Should All Police Be Outfitted With Body Cameras? discusses police accountability through greater surveilance and monitoring with body mounted cameras. Professor Harris has written frequently on the topic of police procedure and accountability, most recently with the NYU Press book Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science.

Watch the NBC Nightly News segment here.

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 10:30am

AP Photo

In The New York Times story Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions, Pitt Law Professor Dr. David J. Garrow offered analysis of the war of images over the protests and police clashes in Ferguson, MO in response to the police shooting and killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The story observes that the general population’s interpretation of the events in Ferguson is shaped more by who they follow on Twitter and Facebook, or what filters they have set when they search for information on the crisis. The story notes “David J. Garrow, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school and the author of several books on the civil rights movement, noted that when he searched for images of Ferguson on Google, roughly half showed what appeared to be looting. Such images look “more like Watts in 1965 or Newark in 1967, not Birmingham in 1963 or Selma in 1965,” Dr. Garrow said in the story. And historically, he said, such photos were “deadly when it came to white public opinion.”

Read the New York Times story Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 11:27am

A federal judge in California has ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s ban on paying college athletes for use of their likenesses violates federal antitrust law. The NCAA has announced that it will appeal the decision, but the appeal will be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is not likely to be a favorable venue for an antitrust defendant, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal quoted University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman, an expert on the federal courts, who said: “I’m sure the NCAA would rather be in some other circuit.” In several major antitrust cases, the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of the plaintiff, only to be reversed by the United States Supreme Court.

Read the full story here.   


Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 10:48am


Pitt Law Professor David A. Harris, a legal expert in police misconduct and author of Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science was quoted extensively in a New York Times cover story on the deteriorating situation in Ferguson, Missouri. On Saturday an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. In the days since, demonstrations and protestors have clashed with a militarized police force armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, high-powered assault rifles and armored trucks.

The New York Times story penned by Julie Bosman and Erik Eckholm details arrests and detainments of journalists reporting on the crisis and the hacker collective known as Anonymous which has broken into municipal government servers to retrieve and disseminate information on the police and city officials in a practice known as “doxing.”

“Police departments do not welcome disclosure or the input of outsiders,” Harris said in the story. “So when you have a problem like this, it’s hardly surprising to see that they are very reluctant to give out information.”

In the story Harris said that while it was understandable that police officials would try to protect their officers from threats and unfair accusations, silence also had its risks. “This case is not being tried yet, but the narrative is being forged in the public arena. When that goes on, information is put out selectively and withheld selectively.”

“There is real danger in that,” he said, “because ultimately law enforcement depends on the trust of the people they serve.”

Read the New York Times story Anonymity in Police Shooting Fuels Anger in Missouri.

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