University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 9:35am

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument this summer in an appeal by Google, Inc., challenging a ruling that Google may have broken federal wiretap laws. One of the judges on the appellate panel is Jay S. Bybee, who as a lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration drafted legal justification for secret Government wiretap activities. The Daily Journal (San Francisco) asked Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman, an authority on judicial ethics, whether this posed a conflict of interest.

Hellman said there was probably no conflict. He quoted the provision in the Judicial Code that addresses participation in judicial decisions by former Government officials and noted that it is “narrow.” He added, “By implication, it would allow [Bybee’s] participation here.” Hellman continued: “That said, if the Google appeal involves the constitutionality or interpretation of statutory provisions that Judge Bybee helped to draft during his years at [the Office of Legal Counsel], I think that the general disqualification provision [in] section 455 (a) might suggest recusal. But if he just worked on legislation involving similar subject matter, I don’t think that would create a conflict.”

The article is subscription-only.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 9:22am

Professor John Burkoff was quoted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the question whether Pennsylvania public officials have to follow Pennsylvania law that does not permit same-sex marriages. “Every individual public servant can't decide for himself or herself what the law is. It'd be chaos,” Burkoff said. But, "[w]hat makes bans on same-sex marriage different from most other laws," Burkoff added, "are rapid changes in public opinion in favor of the unions, the progress of legislation striking down the bans and the growing body of court decisions striking them down — all of which point to the bans' eventual disappearance."

Read the full article here.  

Friday, August 30, 2013 - 3:41pm

Pitt Law Assistant Professor Charles C. Jalloh has been named this year’s recipient of the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Faculty Scholar Award. The BIR award, which is supported by a top ranked Pittsburgh-based national law firm, is aimed at supporting faculty at Pitt Law to carry out a substantial scholarly project that addresses a controversy within the law or that has major impact on the legal community as a whole or the city of Pittsburgh in particular.

Jalloh plans to use the award towards a high-visibility collaborative project aimed at identifying best practices for the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s only permanent criminal tribunal.  The project, which has already begun and will be carried out over the coming year, is being undertaken in collaboration with the International Bar Association and with faculty members from other law schools. 

Jalloh joined Pitt Law in 2009. Since then, he has been part of ongoing efforts to help build a program in this fast growing area of international law at the law school. As part of this, he has pursued scholarly research as well as sought innovative learning opportunities for Pitt students. These included taking 11 students on a field trip to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania in March 2010, helping CILE to arrange for several tribunal leaders, including two former chief prosecutors (Hassan B. Jallow and Stephen J. Rapp) and the former ICTR president (Erik Mose), to visit the law school in 2010 and 2011, respectively, as well as convening the first major international conference to assess the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in April 2012. The latter resulted in a substantial book that is the first to assess the contributions of the SCSL to international criminal law, published by Cambridge University Press.

His impetus to take up identifying lessons learned for the ICC comes from his commitment to finding practical solutions to real world problems. “I was pleasantly surprised to have been selected for this competitive award by the Dean [William “Chip” Carter], from undoubtedly many other deserving proposals from my faculty colleagues”, he said. “I am grateful to Dean Carter for his foresight in recognizing that this type of research has the potential to make a big impact on a young field like international criminal law, and particularly so for a new court like the ICC, which is still going through growing pains.” He went on to say, “I thank the partners and lawyers at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney for their leadership role supporting faculty scholarship here at Pitt Law, and for recognizing that with a little help, legal academics could play an important role carrying out research that may help advance the law - here at home, as well as abroad. I hope that other Pittsburgh area firms will emulate their excellent example, and look forward to sharing the results of our research with them.” 

The collaborative study will benefit from Jalloh’s experience practicing international criminal law at both the domestic and international levels. He started his career as Counsel at the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, from where he went on to serve as the Defense Legal Advisor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), an Associate Legal Officer in Trial Chamber I at the ICTR, and as a Visiting Professional at the ICC. At the SCSL, he had the honor of representing the former Liberian President Charles Taylor as a court-appointed duty counsel and, at the ICTR, he was part of the small team of attorneys that assisted the Trial Chamber with judgment drafting in the cases involving Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, the “architect” of the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide, and four other senior military officers from the Rwandan army who masterminded the killing of up to a million people in just 100 days.

Professor Jalloh has published several books and articles in the area of international and criminal law. He holds various pro bono positions serving, inter alia, on the Advisory Panel to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; the Advisory Board of the War Crimes Committee, International Bar Association; and as an elected Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law’s International Criminal Law Interest Group.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 10:41am

Dean Carter's article, "Trust Me, I'm a Judge," was cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The decision and the article involve the permissibility under the Due Process Clause, the Sixth Amendment, and the Federal Rules of Evidence, of a judge rather than the jury making findings of fact supporting a criminal defendant's conviction.

The decision can be viewed here.

The article, which arose out of Dean Carter's experience litigating such issues, can be found here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 4:34pm

David Garrow, Research Professor of History and Law in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law, on Wednesday, August 28 will appear on The Diane Rehm Show, airing locally at 10 a.m., to discuss the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Garrow will join a panel that includes Sherrilyn Ifill, director-counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Anthony Cook, professor of law at Georgetown University; and Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns. With guest host Frank Sesno, a journalist and former CNN correspondent, the panel will discuss the legacy of the 1963 March and the current state of civil rights in America.

Garrow is the author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

The Diane Rehm Show can be heard locally from 10 a.m. to noon on 90.5 WESA. Click here to listen live

Garrow will also be quoted on the PBS feature The March which premieres August 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.  Read more about the show here.  

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 9:54am

David Garrow was quoted in a Washington Post Sunday Outlook essay by prominent political journalist Dan Balz addressing the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Read the full story here.  

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 9:48am

Professor David Harris commented the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice would seek to find ways around mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. Holder said that too many Americans are incarcerated for too long. Professor Harris explained that this was part of a change in thinking on crime: the politics behind the issue have changed. “There is a growing awareness of the fiscal and social costs of our great experiment in mass incarceration, and the balance has shifted from trying to look unrelentingly tough to asking what works best.’’

Read the full article here.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 11:12am

Pitt Law Professor David Garrow is quoted in a long August 21st USA Today story that examines how the 1963 March on Washington stimulated many subsequent 'marches on Washington' focusing on all sorts of different issues.

Read the full article here.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 3:20pm

A federal judge in New York has found the New York Police Department's intensive use of stop and frisk violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and Professor David Harris commented on the national and local implications of the ruling. Professor Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that stops and frisks are used in all police departments, and can be good investigative tools, as long as they are used only when necessary and legally justified. "It's not a small thing to be put up against a wall and have a person feel through your clothes," he said.

Read the full story here.  

Monday, August 19, 2013 - 10:11am

The chief judges of 87 federal district courts sent a letter to Congressional leaders warning about the threats posed to the judicial system by shrinking court budgets, and Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman expressed support for their plea in an interview with the Daily Journal, the West Coast legal newspaper.

Hellman, described in the article as “a leading authority on the federal judiciary,” said, “This is a cry of pain from judges who feel the effect of these cuts every day in the work they do.” He added: “I don't remember an instance in which so many judges from all over the country have spoken with one voice on behalf of their courts. They are right in their basic point - they can't turn away ‘customers,’ and they can’t decline to carry out the tasks assigned to them by Congress and required by the Constitution.”

The article is available only by subscription. 

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