University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 8:51pm

Professor and Associate Dean Anthony Infanti presented his paper, titled "Internation Equity and Human Development," at the Critical Perspectives on Tax Policy conference at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, GA, on September 17, 2011. The paper will be featured as a chapter in a forthcoming book.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 8:44pm

 Professor Douglas Branson explained conflicts of interest in not-for-profit entities, specifically a charter school, in the September 4 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.   The case involved a non-profit which owned real estate and leased it to a second non-profit for use as a charter school.  The two corporations shared several directors (interlocking directorates).  Professor Branson explained that, in such a case, regardless of the amount involved or apparent fairness of the transaction, proper treatment requires full disclosure, decision-making by only the disinterested directors, and credible findings of why the proposed transaction might be deemed fair to each corporation.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 9:35am

Congress has passed and sent to the President a bill that adopts Professor Arthur Hellman’s suggested approach for overruling a Supreme Court decision on federal jurisdiction. President Obama will sign the bill on Friday, and Professor Hellman’s proposals will be enacted into law as part of the Judicial Code (Title 28).

The bill is H.R. 1249, the “America Invents Act.” One section of the bill incorporates provisions known as the “Holmes Group fix” because they overrule the Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado.

The Holmes Group decision involved the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court held that the Federal Circuit cannot review a case in which the complaint does not allege a patent law claim, although the answer contains a patent-law counterclaim. The decision was criticized for contravening Congress’s intent to create a uniform body of patent law by having all patent appeals heard by the Federal Circuit.

The “Holmes Group fix” originated in a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee in March 2005. A bar association proposed overruling Holmes Group by revising the provision of the Judicial Code defining the “original jurisdiction” of the district courts in patent cases.  Professor Hellman agreed that Holmes Group should be overruled, but he cautioned the committee that the association proposal could have unanticipated consequences.  He suggested a more narrowly tailored package of amendments.

The Judiciary Committee agreed with Professor Hellman and unanimously endorsed a bill embodying his proposals. Although that bill did not reach the House floor, the principal elements of the “Holmes Group fix” were incorporated into the “America Invents Act.” They will become law when President Obama signs the bill on Friday.

The “Holmes Group fix” amends two sections of the Judicial Code dealing with intellectual property cases and adds a new provision allowing removal of certain IP cases from state to federal court.

A detailed account of the legislative history of the “Holmes Group fix,” including Professor Hellman’s role, can be found in the House Report on the 2006 bill here.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 6:01am

Professor David Harris participated in the Urban Institute Round Table on Stop and Frisk Practices in the U.S. on September 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C.  The Round Table group consisted of the leading scholars of police practices in criminology and the legal academy, the police chiefs of major cities in the U.S., and officials from the U.S. Justice Department with responsibility for law enforcement.  With more and more cities using intensive stop and frisk practices as cornerstones of crime control efforts, the discussion focused on the effectiveness of this strategy, its costs to the public, and its iimpact on police/community relations.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 5:51am

Professor John Burkoff commented in The Legal Intelligencer on the effects of the charges against State Sen. Jane Orie on her sister, Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.  The original charges, involving campaign work on state time, focused on Jane Orie's activities in Joan Orie Melvin's campaign for the state Supreme Court; Justice Orie Melvin has not been charged.  But according to Professor Burkoff, the ordeal has undoubtedly taken an emotional toll on Justice Orie Melvin.  Beyond that, Justice Orie Melvin could face her own legal troubles. "We know from what the Allegheny County district attorney has filed so far...[and we] also know that they're still investigating. What we don't know is whether they're going to bring charges against [Orie Melvin]."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 10:17am

KDKA's Mike Pintek interviewed Pitt Law Professor John Burkoff on the topic of Richard Baumhammer’s recent attempt to obtain a new trial or sentencing hearing.  The focus of the discussion was a comparison of how Pennsylvania and Texas move the cases along of convicted killers on death row.  Should Pennsylvania move more quickly?  Burkoff argued that it should not.  


Listen to the interview here.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 7:44am

Professor Ronald Brand commented in the Philadelphia Business Journal and Pittsburgh Business Times on Pennsylvania rules for foreign lawyers taking the bar exam.  "In Pennsylvania, we're shooting ourselves in the foot by basically encouraging the best foreign lawyers to go to New York.   It hurts our competitiveness and it makes it harder for Pennsylvania to get advice on how to do business overseas.  It also creates a disadvantage for Pennsylvania law schools trying to attract the best students."  

Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 11:55am

Professor Anthony Infanti was elected Vice Chair of the Teaching Taxation Committee of the ABA's Section of Taxation in August of 2011.

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:41pm

Professor Douglas Branson was the featured guest on the Israeli Public Radio weekly financial program, “Goldstein on Gelt.”   The half hour interview was recorded on July 22 and aired July 29.  Professor Branson discussed his books on corporate governance and on women in corporate governance roles, including his latest book on the subject, The Last Male Bastion: Gender and the CEO Suite at America’s Public Companies, which evidently has attracted somewhat of a following in Israel.

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:26pm

Professor David Harris commented on the denial of State Senator Jane Orie's appeal of a double jeopardy issue that arose out of her trial on political corruption charges.  When Orie's defense attorney offered evidence that seemed to contained forged signatures, the trial judge declared a mistrial; Orie then argued that there should be no retrial, on the basis of double jeoparday.  The trial judge denied her motion, and she appealed.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed, and Professor Harris explained that any further appeal would be even less likely to succeed than the argument in front of either the trial judge or the Superior Court.


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