University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 2:28pm

Professor Mirit Eyal-Cohen gave a workshop at Case Western Reserve School of Law in Cleveland on September 29, 2011.  The subject of the workshop was Professor Eyal-Cohen's article, "Are All Things Small? Introducing A Progressive Scale of Competitive Viability."  Abstract:  

 

American politicians love to rally around small businesses and grant them favorable treatment in the law. In the popular imagination, “small business” is synonymous with innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. Yet just what is a small business, in the eyes of the law? Is a “small business” deemed small by its revenue, its number of employees, or other attributes? The fact is, there is no one standard definition. Current statues are inconsistent, and many definitions are remarkably broad. This has allowed even large and established firms that dominate their markets to take advantage of provisions intended to protect small businesses and improve their competitiveness. 

This paper will examine the size standards found in government contracts law and the Internal Revenue Code, and will trace the development of these standards through their legislative history. The paper will conclude with a proposal for a unified progressive scale to replace current definitions of “small” business. This new model is based fundamentally on an entity’s prospective ability to compete. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 4:19pm

Professor Michael Madison, Faculty Director of Pitt Law's Innovation Practice Institute, co-hosted a scholarly workshop at the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at New York University School of Law on September 23 and 24, titled, "Convening Cultural Commons."  The workshop gathered a diverse, interdisciplinary group of 45 scholars from law, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.  The workshop was organized to highlight research applying and extending a research framework for information and knowledge commons developed by Professor Madison and two co-authors and workshop co-hosts, Professor Katherine Strandburg (NYU) and Professor Brett Frischmann (Cardozo Law) and published in 2010 in the Cornell Law Review.  Workshop presentations included case studies of tropical disease research collaboratives, MusicBrainz (an online volunteer collaborative for sharing metadata about popular music), Congress, genomics databases, the development of the airplane, invention in military services, the arts "scene" in a small Canadian city, and roller derby.  Professor Madison presented a work in progress titled, "Astrocommons and the Evolving Futures of Scientific Research," which describes two research collaboratives involving astronomers and astrophysicists.

 

A highlight of the workshop was a public lecture by 2009 Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, whose work on natural resource commons inspired the Madison, Frischmann and Strandburg framework.

 

Link to the "Convening Cultural Commons" agenda and list of presentations here.

 

Link to a video of Professor Ostrom's public lecture here.

 

Link to the 2010 special issue of the Cornell Law Review that includes the Madison, Frischmann & Strandburg research proposal and several comments on it here.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 4:13pm

Professor John Burkoff commented on a case in which a prison gaurd in Allegheny County has been charged with dozens of counts of sexual assault against inmates.  The case is highly unusual, because most allegations of this type by inmates are dismissed as not credible.  According to Professor Burkoff, "there are always reports of sexual abuse or brutality by guards, and we know that some of them are frivolous and some are not. It's not common that a prosecutor can get enough evidence of what may have really happened to file charges of this magnitude."

 

Link


Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:30am

Professor Elena Baylis participated in the Institute for International Law and Public Policy Roundtable at Temple Law School on Friday, September 23.  The invited discussants commented on Mary Dudziak’s forthcoming book “War Time.”

 

Link to the Institute's site, with discussion of the Roundtable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:16am

Professor David Harris commented in Newsday on the U.S. Department of Justice letter sent to officials of Suffolk County, New York.  The letter reported on an extensive investigation of the police department for civil rights violations involving treatment of immigrants and other matters.  Together, the scope of the investigation, and the sheer number of recommendations aimed at changing core functions of the police department, mean that the problems cannot be addressed by just naming a new chief.  Rather, the police department appears to have deep structural problems that require significant institutional changes.

 

Link

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:06am

Professor John Burkoff commented on a PA Superior Court ruling that does not allow text messages to be used as evidence unless the prosecution can prove who sent them.  The case involved thirteen drug-related text messages found on the defendant's cell phone; prosecution witnesses conceded that the phone was sometimes used by persons other than the defendant.  Because the prosecution couldn't prove who sent the texts, the messages should not have been part of the evidence seen by the jury in the defendant's trial.  Professor Burkoff said that the case was just the latest example of how courts are "struggling to figure out just how to deal with the legal and evidentiary issues newly posed by the various forms of 'new' technology."

 

Link

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 11:01am

This week, Professor John Burkoff published the newest edition of his treatise, Criminal Defense Ethics: Law & Liability 2d (West).

 

Link

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 1:29pm

Professor David Harris served as a panelist at the invitation of the writer and director of Camino, a play presented by the Hiawatha Project.  Professor Harris discussed the play's immigration and criminal justice themes in a post performance session with the audience.  Camino, which is based on the deportation of former Pittsburgh resident Milton Mieja in 2009, is one of the first works of art to focus on the impact of private prisons on the immigration debate.

 

See information on Camino here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011 - 8:24pm

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, Professor Rhonda Wasserman attended (via web conference) a meeting of the American Law Institute Members’ Consultative Group on the Restatement of the Law (Third) on the U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 5:38pm

On Friday,  Sept. 16, Professor Haider Ala Hamoudi presented a paper at a conference at St. John’s University School of Law.  The subject of the conference was religion and bankruptcy; Professor Hamoudi's paper was entitled “The Surprising Irrelevance of Islamic Bankruptcy.”   The Conference was sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law School and the Center for Bankruptcy Studies.

 

Link to the conference decription here.

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