Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 10:31am
Professors Arthur Hellman and John Burkoff weighed in on public comments by PA Supreme Court Justice Max Baer concerning another judge who stands accused of misconduct. Lackawanna County Judge Terrence Nealon has admitted to engaging in behavior that showed "a lapse in ethical judgment," and his case may well be referred to state judicial ethics authorities. Such cases can end up in front of the PA Supreme Court for final decision. In a newspaper story, Justice Baer criticized Nealon's behavior but also praised him, saying that Nealon was "a fine man" and "a fine judge" whose "dumb" mistake that should not derail his judicial career. This put the focus on whether Justice Baer's comments might influence the determination of the judicial ethnics case against Judge Nealon, and whether Justice Baer would have to recuse himself if Nealon's case came to the Supreme Court. Professor Burkoff thought Justice Baer's comments were "not inappropriate," but Professor Hellman said that the comments may, indeed, require Justice Baer to recuse himself.
Link to the story
Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 9:20pm
Professor David Harris commented on the upcoming guilty plea of Elizabeth Jones, housemate of Michael Carlow. Carlow, convicted in the past of a major financial fraud, will go on trial soon for another alleged swindle, and Jones' guilty plea raises the prospect that she may testify against him. According to Professor Harris, a plea agreement often includes a condition that the pleading party act as a witness against others in the case. Even if this is not a condition, the person who pleads guilty may still be subpoenaed for trial, and would likely have no Fifth Amendment protection after a plea
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 9:57pm
Professor David Harris commented on the resentencing of State Sen. Vince Fumo after an appeals court reversed his sentence. Fumo, a powerful Philadelphia-area politician convicted of more than a hundred counts of public corruption offenses, received a 55 month sentence -- far less than the twenty-plus years prosecutors had sought under the federal sentencing guidelines. The appeals court reversed the sentence because the judge made numerous procedural mistakes in calculating the sentence, all in favor of Fumo. Professor Harris said that Fumo may very well end up with a substantially longer sentence than he received before.
Link to story
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 3:37pm
Pitt Law Professor Arthur Hellman talked with the LA Times about the fairness of a U.S. District Judge failing to rule on a number of eligible habeas corpus petitions for years.
Read the full article here.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 8:30pm
Professor Harry Flechtner spent much of the summer working in Austria and Germany. In Vienna on July 7, Professor Flechtner participated in the meeting of National Correspondents to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”); he is one of two National Correspondents for the U.S. Under a grant from Pitt's University Center for International Studies (“UCIS”), Professor Flechtner taught for three weeks (June 20 – July 8) in the Summer Program in International Economic Law at the University of Augsburg (Germany), offering a course entitled Comparative International Sales Law. While in Augsburg he also co-taught a seminar on Delivery of Non-conforming Goods under the CISG for graduate students focusing on business law. Professor Flechtner's and his co-teacher, Professor Beate Gsell of the Augsburg Law Faculty, also worked together on a special joint research project about bridging differences in the interpretation of texts across legal cultures. On June 29, Professor Flechtner also gave a lecture, sponsored by the German American Bar Association (Deutsch-Amerikanische Juristen-Vereinigung) at the University of Freiburg. The lecture, entitled “The Latest U.S. CISG Decisions and What They Tell Us about the State of the Convention in the U.S. and World Legal Systems.”
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 8:15pm
On August 22, 2011, Assistant Professor Charles C. Jalloh presented an invited paper at an interdisciplinary academic workshop on Morality, Jus Post Bellum and International Law at Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 8:01pm
Professor John Burkoff commented on a case in which an Allegheny County judge reversed herself. When a defense lawyer was hired at the last minute before a trial, the lawyer asked for a continuance to prepare. The judge denied the request. A week later, after the jury had been selected, the lawyer renewed his request for a continuance, saying he still had not yet had adequate time to prepare. This time the judge granted the request. "The good news in all this is that a judge who may have made the wrong decision didn't simply stick by it and instead reconsidered and did the right thing," Professor Burkoff said.
Link to the story
Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 8:37pm
Professors Larry Frolik and Anthony Infanti both contributed chapters to a new publication by the ABA Senior Lawyers Division. Written for lay people, “The ABA Practical Guide to Estate Planning,” edited by Jay Soled, contains 33 chapters that cover the many aspects of later-life and estate planning. Professors Frolik wrote the chapter on “End-of-Life Decision Making”, and Professor Infanti authored the chapter on “Special Concerns of Lesbian and Gay Couples.”
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 9:30pm
Professor David Harris was the lead U.S. speaker at the "Roundtable on Current Debates, Research Agendas, and Strategies to Address Racial Disparities in Police-Initiated Stops in the UK and USA," at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York on August 11 and 12. The conference, sponsored by the Open Society Institute and John Jay, brought together academics, policy makers, advocates and law enforcement officers for two days of comparative analysis and discussion of stop and frisk law and practices in the U.S. and the U.K., and the produced agendas for further research and a plan for action by advocates. Papers by Professor Harris and other participants will be published as an edited volume in 2012.
Link here to the Roundtable agenda.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 9:16pm
Professors John Burkoff and Arthur Hellman commented on the conduct of a Pennsylvania judge who used email to give advice to one side in a highly political case which the judge was asked to decide. Lackawanna County Judge Terrence R. Nealon has admitted to "a lapse of ethical judgment" in the case. Professor Burkoff commented, ""Actually, it's pretty hard to believe...The first thing that is absolutely clear is that under the judicial canons of ethics a judge has to be nonpartisan and neutral." Professor Hellman called the judge's behavior "almost incredible...If he did this, it violates so many basic rules ... This isn't in the debatable realm. This is core misconduct if he did this."
Link to the story here.