Faculty Focus is a monthly publication documenting the activities, accomplishments, and honors of the University of Houston Law Center Faculty.

December 2011

Editor, Dan Baker djbaker2@central.uh.edu

Previous editions of Faculty Focus can be accessed here.


Janet Beck spoke on “Mental Competency in Removal Proceedings” at the Houston Bar Association CLE “Immigration Hot Topics” on Nov. 17, 2011. On Dec. 1, Prof. Beck served on a panel at the U.S. DHS/Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Office in Houston, where she discussed differences between preparing for an affirmative asylum interview by an Asylum Officer versus an immigration court hearing.


Aaron Bruhl’s article on Supreme Court rehearing practice is now in print in the Journal of Appellate Practice & Process. The journal, which is faculty edited, is distributed to every federal and state appellate judge in the country.


David R. Dow was the co-recipient (along with Rob Owen, of Northwestern Univ. Law School) of the French Humanitarian Award, given annually by the Paris Bar to someone who has shown an exceptional commitment to the defense of human rights. Previous winners include Muhammed al-Assani, the Syrian lawyer, and Vincent Cochetel, the Director of the High Commission for Refugees in the Chechen Republic. Professors Dow and Owen are the first Americans to be awarded this prize. The ceremony took place in Paris on Dec. 2. Prof. Dow also received the 2011 Excellence in Public Service Award from BLSA at the BLSA banquet held on Nov. 17. Prof. Dow's review of David Oshinsky's book, Capital Punishment on Trial, appeared in the Journal of Southern History in November, and his letter "Unfit for Execution" appeared on the New York Times website on Dec. 9.


Leslie Griffin presented her paper "Ordained Discrimination: The Cases Against the Ministerial Exception" at Capital Law School in Columbus, Ohio.


Geoffrey Hoffman lectured on prosecutorial discretion at the Houston Bar Association CLE “Immigration Hot Topics” held at the Junior League on Nov. 17, 2011. On Nov. 30, the UH Law Center Immigration Clinic published a practice advisory (PA) in collaboration with the American Immigration Council. The PA relates to a precedential decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals, Matter of M-A-M-, a case which was handled by the UH Clinic and highlights the work of our students. The PA may be found at the following web address: http://www.law.uh.edu/clinic/immigration/UH-AIC-Mental-Competency-Issues.pdf. On Dec. 1, Prof. Hoffman attended the Asylum Unit Open House and met with immigration officials to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Asylum Division, a part of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Craig Joyce was appointed to the ABA’s Section 301 Committee on Copyright Legislation in December 2011.


Sapna Kumar was quoted in the National Law Journal regarding Apple ITC litigation that threatens the future of Google’s Android software.


Tom Oldham‘s solicited article “Should Separate Property Gradually Become Community Property as a Marriage Continues?” has been published at 72 Louisiana Law Review 127.


Michael A. Olivas published No Undocumented Child Left Behind: Plyler v. Doe and the Education of Undocumented Children (New York University Press, 2011). He participated on a panel about Plyler and the DREAM Act at NYU School of Law and at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and appeared on Pacifica Radio and Bloomberg.Edu News Radio about the case and the Alabama statute that would require special registration of these children.


Jordan Paust presented a paper on “The Recognizable Reach of Human Rights Responsibilities” at the annual meeting of the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) (a top think tank in China) in Beijing on Nov. 26.


Sandra Guerra Thompson gave a talk on incorporating ethics throughout the 1L criminal law course at a workshop on criminal law pedagogy at Tulane Law School on Dec 1. She also contributed a comment for the SCOTUS blog on the pending Supreme Court case on eyewitness identifications (Perry v. New Hampshire) at http://www.scotusblog.com/community/perry-v-new-hampshire/.


Greg Vetter presided over the annual Ronald A. Katz Foundation Fall Lecture of the Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law (IPIL). The Fall Lecture was held on Nov. 17 in downtown Houston. Professor Bob Brauneis of the George Washington University Law School presented “Trademark Infringement, Trademark Dilution, and the Decline in Sharing of Famous Brand Names: An Introduction and Empirical Study” at the Fall Lecture.


Jacqueline Weaver was the keynote speaker on “Best Practices in Oil and Gas Contracts and Deepwater Drilling” at a conference in Havana, Cuba, sponsored by the Paris-based Association de Andres Bello, an association of French and Latin-American legal scholars. Her participation was approved under a special license from the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the US Treasury after the Obama administration eased restrictions on academic travels to Cuba within the framework of the 51-year old US embargo of Cuba. Cuban scholars from the University of Havana and experts from CUPET, the national oil company of Cuba, participated in the conference, which was coordinated by Julian Cardenas-Garcia (an LLM graduate from UHLC) and Francisco Victoria-Andreu, a Mexican attorney based in Paris who is Vice President of the Andres Bello Association. While US commercial interests are still embargoed in Cuba, the rest of the world—China, Angola, Mexico, etc—was well-represented in the hotel lobby, engaging in commerce—with free time spent enjoying the cultural treasures of Old Havana. Prof. Weaver’s visit appears to be the first academic exchange program with Cuban oil and gas officials and academics in the past half-century, although the International Association of Drilling Contractors also received a special license to discuss cooperative plans for offshore oil spill response a few weeks ago. The drilling of a deepwater well in the Cuban side of the Gulf of Mexico is about to begin on a well deeper than BP’s Macondo and very close to Florida’s coast.


Bret Wells spoke on a webcast on “International Tax Reform: History, Current Needs, and Obama Administration Proposals” on Dec. 6 for Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE. On Dec. 7, Prof. Wells was the presiding officer at the 59th Annual Taxation Conference held on the campus of the University of Texas.


In early November, Tracy Hester and Steve Zamora participated in a workshop in Washington, DC, organized by the North American Consortium on Legal Education (NACLE) and hosted by George Washington University Law School. The workshop, entitled “Managing North American Security: Where Do We Go from Here?”, brought together 45 law professors and students from NACLE’s 13 member law schools in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Prof. Hester is Co-Chair of a multi-year NACLE project assessing the effectiveness of the environmental side agreement to NAFTA. Prof. Zamora, as Director of NACLE (which is headquartered at the UH Law Center), was one of the organizers of the workshop.