University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:59pm

Professor John Burkoff commented in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on a legislative initiative to amend the state Constitution to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. “We do ourselves a disservice by forcing retirement (of judges) so early,” Burkoff commented, “I think it would make a lot more sense to let judges stay on the bench longer, at least until the point where they actually show signs that they can no longer do the job effectively.”

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:15pm

Some federal courts have responded to the federal government “shutdown” by declaring all of their employees “essential.” Would judges in those courts have to disqualify themselves if presented with a legal challenge to similar decisions by executive branch agencies? The Wall Street Journal posed that question to Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an expert on federal courts. Hellman said that there could be an ethical question, particularly “if the judge presiding over such a dispute had a hand in crafting the court’s own shutdown policy.”
Hellman added: “Very likely any such suit would be thrown out on standing grounds, but you would still need judges to throw it out.”

Read the full article here.  

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 9:45am

David Garrow spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, October 10, as part of a 2-hour panel discussion of how the Freedom of Information Act and energetic litigation by news organizations can help expose long-buried secrets about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's use of paid informants targeted against the African-American civil rights movement from the 1950s into the 1970s. Joining Garrow on the panel were Marc Perrusquia of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, whose dogged investigative journalism exposed famous civil rights photographer Ernest Withers as a long-time, paid FBI information, Holland & Knight partner Charles D. Tobin, who undertook the Commercial Appeal's successful federal court litigation against the FBI, and E.W. Scripps Co. vice presidents Mizell Stewart III and David M. Giles, whose corporate-level support of Perrusquia and Tobin made the litigation possible.


The panel, sponsored by the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Committee, was videotaped by C-Span for national television broadcast sometime in late October.  Read more here.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 9:54am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Jane Orie Melvin who had not sent apologies to state judges that she was required to send as part of her sentence following conviction on charges of abuse of office. She argues that an apology would be an admission of guilt while her convictions are on appeal. The DA's Office argues that she already apologized at sentencing. Burkoff said that Orie Melvin's statement at sentencing was an "expression of remorse," not a "real apology at all." "It was one of those politicians' tactical apologies which really means 'I'm sorry I got caught.' We've heard this a million times before when politicians feel that they have to say something after they screwed up, but they don't want to really admit that they screwed up." Burkoff suggested two possible solutions -- Judge Nauhaus accept letters that read like her tactical apology, or wait until the conviction is upheld. "If Judge Nauhaus wants something more -- a real admission of wrongdoing, a mea culpa -- then he should wait until her appeals are over and her conviction is final before expecting to see that sort of admission."

Read the full story here.  

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 Justia.com.

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.  

 

 

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