University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 9:07pm

Professor David Harris spoke at a conference on offender reentry programs.  The conference, "Offender Reentry: The Challenges for Law Enforcement and the Community," took place on April 20 at St. Louis University Law School, and drew law enforcement professionals, public officials, and leaders from every level of government across the country.  Professor Harris discussed how the lesson learned in the public debate over racial profiling could help persuade law enforcement agencies, leaders, and officers to get behind efforts to re-integrate released prisoners into society.  



Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 9:00pm

Professor Janice Mueller’s essay, “Facilitating Patient Access to Patent-Protected Genetic Testing,” has been published at 6 J. Business & Tech. L. 83 (2011), a journal published by the University of Maryland.  Abstract:


In March 2010, a New York federal district court granted summary judgment invalidating a number of biotechnology patents directed to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 human breast cancer genes. One of the most highly publicized patent disputes in recent memory, Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) v. United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Myriad Genetics, Inc. pits patient care advocates against the patent-owning biotechnology industry. The Myriad decision is now under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Neither the Federal Circuit (nor the U.S. Supreme Court, if it were to grant review) should prohibit the patenting of genetic material through judicial decision; such a drastic change in patent law requires due deliberation by Congress. Despite the critical importance to society of facilitating patient access to genetic testing, dismantling patent protection for this important technology is not the right approach; instead, modifying approaches to licensing gene patents is. This essay concludes that the district court’s decision in Myriad should not stand. The essay also evaluates the recommendations of a Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee for facilitating access to patented genetic testing and offers a modification of the committee’s proposed framework.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 8:49pm

Professor John Burkoff explained new defense motions in the upcoming retrial of State Sen. Jane Orie.  In Orie's first trial, the court did not allow anyone to serve as a juror who lived in Orie's district, and the defense has asked the judge to reverse that ruling for the retrial, which is now scheduled for October.  The defense has also asked that the jury in the retrial be sequested for the entire case, not just the deliberations.  Professor Burkoff  told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he believed the first of these motions  would not succeed, but the sequestration motion might, given the amount of publicity about the first trial and the mistrial that ended it.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 6:59am

Professor John Burkoff explained to Pittsburgh's WTAE (Channel 4) News why a Lawrence County judge found a field sobriety test to be inadequate to sustain a prima facie case for DUI. The ruling concerned an incident in which a 59 year old woman could not pass the a standard part of a field sobriety test by standing on one leg.  The court held that such tests cannot be used for people over 60 years of age.  



Sunday, April 17, 2011 - 8:24pm

Assistant Professor Charles C. Jalloh gave a lecture to pre-law students at Washington & Jefferson College on April 15, 2011. His talk entitled “The 1994 Rwandan Genocide: Is there an International Responsibility to Protect?” was followed by lunch with the students, who had questions about both international law and law school more generally. Professor Buba Misawa, Washington & Jefferson Political Science Department and Drew Chelosky, Director of the Pitt Law Development Office, arranged the visit. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 9:52am

On April 7, 2011, Assistant Professor Charles Jalloh led Pitt Law faculty and staff in an event to comemorate the United Nations designated International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century. The event, organized by Professor Jalloh with the support of the International Law Society and the Center for International Legal Education, showed the award winning PBS documentary, Ghosts of Rwanda, which examined the international community’s failure to prevent the genocide in which over 800, 000 people were slaughtered in 100 days.


Professors Vivian Curran and Bernard Hibbitts participated in the viewing. Afterwards, they gave their reactions to the documentary, focusing on the link between law and memory, as well as the role, power, and sometimes powerlessness of law (and lawyers) in shaping governmental responses to genocide. Jalloh, who moderated the student and faculty discussion, highlighted the UN Security Council’s legal response to genocide, focusing on the achievements of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the emerging doctrine of Responsibility to Protect. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 9:10am

David Harris, Associate Dean for Research and Pitt Law Professor, shares his opinion on whether Pittsburgh police used reasonable or excessive force with a drunk spectator in PNC Park this weekend, based on a viral video posted on the Internet.  The video has attracted attention from the officers’ bosses, a review board and, at last count, more than 120,000 viewers on YouTube.


Read the full article here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 9:08pm

Three members of the Pitt Law's Barco Law Library staff have an accepted an offer of publication.  Cataloging and Systems Librarian Sallie Smith, eResearch and Technologies Librarian Susanna Leers, and Acquisitions and Serials Librarian Pat Roncevich will publish their paper, Database Ownership: Myth or Reality?,  in the forthcoming Spring 2011 issue of Law Library Journal (Volume 103, number 2). The prepublication draft is also posted on SSRN.

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 9:08pm

Three Pitt Law professor have accepted publication offers in the last week.  Assistant Professor Jessie Allen will publish her article Documentary Disenfranchisement  in Volume 86, Issue 2, of the Tulane Law Review.  Assistant Professor Mirit Eyal-Cohen will publish her work Why is Small Business the Chief Business of Congress? in the Rutgers Law Journal.  And Visiting Professor Jan Osei Tutu will publish her article,  Value Divergence in Global Intellectual Property Law in volume 87 of the Indiana Law Journal.

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 8:55pm

Professor Haider Hamoudi spoke on Islamic finance at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law on April 9, 2011.  His talk, titled "What is an Islamic Bank, and How Do We Regulate it," was part of a conference called "Ethics and Regulation: Critical Approaches to Islamic Banking."  A brief summary of Professor Hamoudi's remarks:


There is an irony to the desire of Islamic financial institutions to seek bank licenses and function under applicable regulatory authority as “banks” given that, in their highly idealized conceptions in the form of the famed “two tier mudharaba”, they would be quite different institutions.  They would be equity driven where banks are debt driven, and they would not serve, or would not serve as effectively, some of the primary functions of banks, which are to use economies of scale to manage information asymmetries and liquidity mismatches as they arise in the market.  While it is true that these institutions do notexist in such idealized forms, and in fact regularly employ instruments and adopt transactional forms that resemble debt rather than equity, these are frequently justified within the practice as transitional, “borderline” transactions, to use Usmani’s term, en route to a purer and more “Islamic” system of financing.  There is thus something of a tension as between what Islamic institutions are, what they purport to want to be, and the institutional form pursuant to which they wish to be recognized for regulatory purposes.  This presentation explores this tension in some depth.


Link to conference program

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