Center for U.S. and Mexican Law

Directors

Stephen ZamoraStephen Zamora, Executive Director

Stephen Zamora is the Leonard B. Rosenberg Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center. He joined the faculty in 1978, and served as the Law Center’s dean from 1995 to 2000. A recognized expert on the Mexican legal system, Zamora is the lead author of the book Mexican Law, published by Oxford University Press. He also has published widely on legal aspects of U.S. – Mexico relations, as well as subjects related to international economic law; international trade law; and international banking and international monetary law. An expert on NAFTA, Zamora served as a member of an arbitration tribunal that decided the first government-to-government dispute under NAFTA (U.S. v. Canada -- Dairy, Poultry and Eggs from the United States, 1996). In 2006, he received the highest distinction awarded by the Mexican government to a foreign national, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, in recognition of his work in promoting U.S. - Mexican understanding.

Ignacio Pinto-Leon, Esq. Ignacio Pinto-Leon, Assistant Director

Ignacio Pinto-Leon is an attorney licensed in Mexico and the United States. He is the director of JurisMex Corp., a consulting firm based in Houston that provides legal advice on Mexican law, as well as on U.S. immigration law.  Pinto–Leon has worked extensively as a litigator in Mexico in matters such as criminal defense, extradition proceedings and Amparo trials.

Pinto–Leon has written and lectured regularly on legal topics relating primarily to Mexican law issues. He is a member of the American Bar Association, and is actively involved in the ABA Section on General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. He is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Mexican Bar Association (Barra Mexicana–Colegio de Abogados).
Pinto–Leon earned his law degree from the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City in 1999 and his LL.M. degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 2006. He is admitted to practice in all jurisdictions in Mexico, in the state of New York, and in the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Texas.

 

Law Faculty

Geoffrey A. HoffmanGeoffrey A. Hoffman

Geoffrey A. Hoffman is the Clinical Associate Professor and Faculty Supervisor of the UH Immigration Clinic. He specializes in immigration-related federal court litigation and deportation defense before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), asylum cases, adjustments, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Prior to joining the Clinic, he practiced immigration law in Miami, Florida at Kurzban Kurzban Weinger & Tetzeli, P.A. Previously, Hoffman was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, held the Forrester Fellowship at Tulane Law School where he taught for one year and was a Lecturer at the University of Miami for two years. In addition to his practice and teaching experience, Hoffman was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Paul V. Gadola, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for a two-year term 1998-2000.

He has published numerous articles published in scholarly journals on international law, international human rights, and racial profiling. Hoffman is a member of AILA, a member of the Supreme Court, Michigan and Florida bars, and is admitted to practice in various federal courts of appeals and federal district courts. He holds an A.B. magna cum laude from Columbia University, a J.D. cum laude from Tulane Law School, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School.

Michael OlivasMichael Olivas

Professor Michael A. Olivas holds the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and serves as director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at the University of Houston Law Center. Olivas is the leading expert on higher education law in the United States, and is a recognized authority on U.S. immigration law.  He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Association of University Professors (for which he served as General Counsel), and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In 2011, he served as president of the Association of American Law Schools.  He holds a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) from the Pontifical College Josephinum, an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He is the author or co-author of fourteen books, as well as numerous articles published in scholarly journals on subjects dealing with education law and immigration law. Olivas is fluent in Spanish.

Sandra Guerra ThompsonSandra Guerra Thompson

Sandra Guerra Thompson is the University of Houston Law Foundation Professor of Law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. Thompson has authored numerous articles on criminal law topics such as eyewitness identification and wrongful conviction, immigration crimes, jury discrimination, police interrogations, federal sentencing, and asset forfeiture. In 2009, she was appointed as the representative of Texas public law schools on the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions which was created by the legislature to propose statutory reforms to curb wrongful convictions. She co-edited a new book entitled American Justice in the Age of Innocence, an anthology about wrongful convictions that includes articles written by her seminar students. She served as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office where she practiced both trial and appellate criminal law from 1988-1990. 

She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and was appointed to the Board of Advisors for the Institute's sentencing reform project. In 2000, she served as chair of the Criminal Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools.  Thompson holds undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.  Thompson is fluent in Spanish.

Jacqueline WeaverJacqueline L  Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver is the A.A. White Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center and one of the nation’s leading scholars in energy law with an emphasis on Oil and Gas Law, International Petroleum Transactions, and Natural Resources and Water Law.  A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, she earned her law degree magna cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center.  She joined the Law Center faculty in 1977, and has taught courses in Oil and Gas, Energy Law and Policy, International Petroleum Transactions, Natural Resources, Water, and Environmental law. She also has recruited outstanding adjuncts in energy law to give the Law Center the number one rated energy law curriculum in the United States. A demanding teacher, she won the University of Houston Teaching Excellence award for 2005-2006. Weaver is a co-author of the leading treatise on “International Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation Agreements,” widely used to teach international petroleum contracts in many countries around the world. She also has co-authored the treatise on “Texas Law of Oil and Gas” and the casebook entitled "Energy, Economics and the Environment."  She has written numerous articles on oil and gas law and energy policy. She was the director of the Russian Petroleum Legislation Project in 1990-1991, blending academic and organizational skills to draft a model petroleum code for the new Russian Federation, with the participation of the World Bank, the European Bank, major oil companies, and Russian academics and officials.  She has often been consulted by governmental and industry leaders in the United States and other countries, due to her expertise on domestic and international developments in energy law, and she participates in many advanced legal training courses in international petroleum transactions.

 

Affiliate Scholars

Affiliate Scholars of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law participate actively in research and educational projects undertaken by the Center. The inclusion of Affiliate Scholars expands the reach of the Center’s programs, and also permits a broad range of viewpoints and expertise in guiding the projects and activities of the Center.

José Ramón Cossío Díaz, Distinguished Jurist in Residence José Ramón Cossío Díaz, Distinguished Jurist in Residence

José Ramón Cossío Díaz, a Justice of the Mexican Supreme Court, is one of Mexico’s leading jurists. In 2011, he accepted a position with the University of Houston Law Center as Distinguished Jurist in Residence, to collaborate actively on research and educational programs through the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law. Cossío will not receive any honoraria for his work with the Center.

A renowned constitutional law scholar, Cossío was Professor of Constitutional Law and Dean at ITAM Law School in Mexico City before being appointed to a fifteen-year term on the Mexican Supreme Court in 2004. Cossío was born in Mexico City in 1960, and graduated with honors from University of Colima School of Law. In 1988, he received a doctorate, summa cum laude, in Constitutional Law and Political Science from Universidad Complutense in Madrid.

The main focus of Cossío’s work has been on constitutional law, although he also has done extensive research and writing in other legal fields. He has authored 19 books and more than 500 articles published in academic journals, law reviews, digests and newspapers. He has received many distinguishing awards and acknowledgments, among them the National Research Prize in the Social Sciences from the Mexican Academy of Sciences in 1998, and the National Science and Arts Award in 2009. The National Academy of Medicine granted him a special recognition in 2010 for his contribution to the strengthening of links between law and medicine. He is a member of distinguished academic, scientific and professional institutes and boards, such as the National Research Network, the American Law Institute, the Mexican Bar Association, the Sciences Advisory Board, the National Institute of Genomic Medicine, and the Mexican Foundation for Health. He also participates in the editing boards of several specialized reviews, both domestic and international. In addition to his judicial duties, Cossío continues to teach Constitutional Law at ITAM University.

Miriam GrumsteinMiriam Grunstein

Miriam Grunstein is Professor of Law at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) University School of Law in Mexico City.  A summa cum laude graduate of ITAM Law School, Professor Grunstein also holds a doctorate (summa cum laude) from New York University in Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, as well as a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico.  Her teaching and research at CIDE focuses on energy law, public regulation, administrative law, and international transactions.  Prior to joining the faculty at CIDE, Grunstein practiced energy law in the Mexico City office of an international law firm.  Her legal publications include books and articles on energy law (hydrocarbons and other forms of energy).  She also has served as a consultant on energy regulation to the Mexican Senate.

Robert LutzRobert E. Lutz

Robert E. Lutz is Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on International Business Transactions Law, International Trade Law, International Litigation and Arbitration, Public International Law, and other international legal topics. He has also taught in the Summer Law Institute of Southwestern, University of New Mexico, and Texas Tech, at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. He was the Editor-in-Chief of THE INTERNATIONAL LAWYER, a co-founder-editor of the ECOLOGY LAW QUARTERLY, is a member of many editorial boards of legal publications, and is the author of numerous articles in leading law and business journals, op-ed pieces, topic-focused books and several textbooks on a large variety of international legal and business subjects. He is also frequently appointed as an arbitrator for international public and private commercial disputes (e.g., NAFTA, WTO, ICDR); and often serves as a consultant to law firms on international legal matters and disputes.

Prof. Lutz is a member of the California Bar and is a former Chair (2001-2) of the Section of International Law (SIL) of the American Bar Association (ABA), the Los Angeles County Bar’s International Law Section, and the Association of American Law Schools’ (AALS) International Law Section. Prof. Lutz recently served on the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20; he previously chaired the ABA’s Task Force on International Trade in Legal Services (ITILS) (and continues as a member), was the Chair of SIL’s Transnational Legal Practice Committee (5 years) and the California Bar’s International Ethics Committee. He participated on SIL’s Outsourcing Committee and 20/20’s Technology Committee which developed the proposed ABA approach to “outsourcing” and cloud-computing issues. He has served on the Executive Committee of the ABA Center for Human Rights and on the Board of ABA-Africa, and was recently appointed to the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism. For many years he was a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law and is a long-time member of the Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Dispute Resolution to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Prof. Lutz continues to lead the U.S. legal profession’s efforts to address the issues of transnational legal practice. He has led legal delegations to foreign countries and organized and chaired a number of “Summits” of legal services leaders focused on Asia, Europe and Latin America and, recently, India, Korea, and the “global” practice of leading firms. Prof. Lutz’s memberships in organizations include: American Law Institute (Life Member); American Bar Foundation (Life Member); Pacific Council on International Policy; American Society of International Law; Phi Beta Kappa, Inns of Court; and the Chancery Club (L.A.).


Richard McLaughlinRichard McLaughlin

Richard McLaughlin is an Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law at the Harte Research
Institute for Gulf of México Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. He received a J.S.D., Doctorate in Law at the University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law in 1997 and a LL.M., Masters in Marine Law and Policy at the University of Washington School of Law in 1987. He graduated J.D., Cum Laude from Tulane University School of Law (1985) and A.B., Cum Laude at Humboldt State University (1978).

Dr. McLaughlin joined Harte Research Institute in June 2005. As the first of the Endowed Chairs to join the team, his knowledge of marine policy and legal issues including the international law of the sea, ocean energy policies, ocean governance, and marine ecosystem-based management provide an important context for application and integration of his colleagues' scientific findings. Incorporating well-developed public policy into scientific, economic, and social issues offers decision makers an added framework in which to work.

He has been actively involved in a variety of leadership positions in the marine policy field, is a former Fulbright Scholar to Japan and has published over sixty articles and monographs on ocean and coastal policy issues. In the classroom, his instruction has included Admiralty; Coastal Management and Ocean Law; and Environment/Marine Policy. Dr. McLaughlin works with a number of non-profit organizations to support his focus on policy and law. He actively participates in professional conferences as an organizer and speaker. In 2007, he led the Law of The Sea Institute Conference focusing on the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

Embracing the "Harte Model," Dr. McLaughlin serves on the research teams of several current projects including the CAMEO Project and Texas Coastal Program Assessment and Strategies Report, which includes each of the Harte Research Institute disciplines. He has also studied strategic application of policy for the stewardship of the Gulf of Mexico, managing transboundary marine resources, policy issues affecting habitat restoration and conservation, and conflicts, gaps, and needs of ecosystem based management.

Amalia Mena-MoraAmalia Mena-Mora

Amalia Mena-Mora is a Research Associate at Galer Law Firm, PLLC in Houston Texas and a Lecturer at the University of Houston. She earned her PhD in Political Science from the same academic institution. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on a quantitative analysis of state administrative courts in Mexico. Amalia received her B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from CIDE in Mexico City. During her career, she has been the recipient of various academic honors and awards, including the First Prize for her research on the Mexican Accountability Office awarded by the Mexican Congress, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences fellowship by the University of Houston, the Phi Kappa Phi membership, the Graduate fellowship by the Center for Mexican-American Studies, among others. Her teaching and research agenda focuses on U.S. and Mexican law and courts, comparative court analysis, subnational governments, and accountability using quantitative methodology.

Alberto AvilaDr. Alberto Abad Suárez Ávila

Alberto Abad Suárez Ávila is a Full-time Professor-Researcher at Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (IIJ-UNAM) in Mexico city. He received his PhD in Law (summa cum laude) from the same institution in 2012. His doctoral research project received the “Caminos de la Justicia en México 1810-1910-2010” prize, awarded by the Mexican Supreme Court, in 2009. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the Universidad de California, Berkeley in 2009 and a visiting researcher at the Max Planck-Institut for Comparative and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany in 2008. In 2007. he received the Ignacio I. Vallarta medal for best student, awarded by School of Law at UNAM. Also, he was the first-place winner of the “Gender and Justice” essay contest, organized by the Mexican Supreme Court and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He is the founding director of the web page www.justiciahable.org, which is dedicated to raising consciousness and observing human rights work in Mexico. He belongs to the Law and Society Association and the Harvard IGLP Network. He speaks Spanish, English, and Portuguese. His research interests are Legal Sociology, Human Rights, Constitutional Courts, Health Law and Criminal Law.

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board consists of persons who possess valuable experience and expertise in regards to Mexican law and society, or in U.S.-Mexican relations.  The Advisory Board provides advice and support in helping the Center to fulfill its mission.

Mexican advisors (in alphabetical order)

  • Cecilia Azar, Founding Partner, AZAR Abogados, México City
  • Dr. Gabriel Cavazos Villanueva,Associate Dean of the School of Business, Social Sciences and Humanities of the Tecnológico de Monterrey (Campus Monterrey), Monterrey
  • Dra. Josefina Cortés, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), México City
  • Dr. José Ramón Cossío Díaz, Justice of the Mexican Supreme Court, and Distinguished Jurist in Residence, University of Houston Law Center
  • Ambassador Arturo Dáger, Mexican Foreign Ministry (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores)
  • Dr. David Enríquez, Goodrich Riquelme y Asociados and ITAM law school, México City
  • Dr. Héctor Fix Fierro, Director, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autó-noma de México (UNAM), México City
  • Ambassador Miguel Ángel González Félix, Despacho Maney & Gonzalez Félix, Houston, TX – Mexico City
  • Alejandro Landa Thierry, Partner, Holland & Knight, México City
  • Dr. Sergio López Ayllón, Chancellor (Director General) of Méxi-co 's Centro de Investigación y Docen-cia Economicas (CIDE), México City
  • Rogelio López Velarde, Founding partner and energy law expert, López Velarde, Heftye y Soria, México City
  • Cristina Massa, Commissioner, Comisión Federal de Competencia, México City
  • Dr. Luis Fernando Pérez Hurtado, Founding Director, Centro de Estudios Sobre la Enseñanza y Aprendizaje de Derecho (CEEAD), Monterrey
  • Dr. Luis Rubio, President, Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo, Asociación Civil (CIDAC), México City
  • Dr. Diego Valadés, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México City

U.S. advisors (in alphabetical order)

  • Ricardo Colmenter, Regional Counsel for Latin America, Weatherford International
  • Congressman Henry Cuellar, U.S. House of Representatives (D -TX, 28th District)
  • Alberto de la Peña, Partner, Haynes and Boone, Dallas
  • James A. DeMent, Jr., Partner, Baker Botts, Houston
  • David Gantz, Samuel M. Fegtly Professor of Law, University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law
  • Lawrence Hanson, LW Hanson and Associates, Houston
  • Tim Johnson, Partner, Locke Lord LLP, Houston
  • David Lopez, Partner, Pulman, Cappuccio & Pullen, San Antonio
  • William D. Marsh, General Counsel, Baker Hughes
  • Charles E. Meacham, Partner, Gardere Wynne Sewell, Houston
  • Judge Margaret McKeown, United States Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, San Diego
  • Ewell E. Murphy, Jr., Former partner, Baker Botts; Distinguished Lecturer, University of Houston Law Center
  • Dallas Parker, Partner, Mayer Brown LLP, Houston
  • Robert Pastor, Director, Center for North American Studies, American University, Washington, D.C.
  • Judge Josefina Rendón, Assoc. Judge, City of Houston Municipal Courts
  • Doris Rodriguez, Partner, Andrews Kurth, Houston
  • Judge Lee Rosenthal, United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston
  • Carlos Soltero, Partner, McGinnis Lochridge & Kilgore, Austin
  • Peter K. Taaffe, Of Counsel, The Buzbee Law Firm, Houston
  • Judge Vaughn Walker, United States District Court (retired), Northern District of California, San Francisco
  • William Wood, Partner, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston

 

Collaborating Faculty

Jerónimo Cortina

Jeronimo Cortina is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston.  He also teaches in University of Houston's Center for Mexican American Studies,  and is a Research Associate at the Center for Public Policy.  He earned a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, as well as a Masters degrees in Public Administration and Public Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs. Dr. Cortina specializes on survey research, immigration, and quantitative methods. His work has been published in scholarly and policy journals such as the American Politics Research Journal, Foreign Affairs in Spanish, and the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. His latest books include (with Andrew Gelman, David Park, Boris Shor)"Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do" published by Princeton University Press, "A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences" published by Cambridge University Press (with Andrew Gelman) and  "New Perspectives on International Migration and Development" (with Enrique Ochoa-Reza) with Columbia University Press.

Susan Kellogg

University of Houston Professor Susan Kellogg is a scholar of Mexican and Latin American history whose research focuses on indigenous peoples, law, and women in Latin America, particularly Mexico. She also studies colonialism and cultural change and the impact of each on Latin American history. Professor Kellogg received her doctorate (in anthropology) from the University of Rochester. She has been both chair and director of graduate studies in the History Department and currently serves as director of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Houston.

 

Lydia Tiede

Lydia TiedeLydia Tiede is an an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston.  She has a Masters  degree in Latin American Studies and a PhD in political science both from the University of California, San Diego.  Prior to pursuing her PhD she worked as an immigration attorney in San Diego representing asylum seekers and immigrant women.  Her current research focuses on studying criminal law reform and the behavior of judges on high courts in Latin America.  She also does comparative research on the rule of law in developing countries.  Her articles have appeared in Latin American Politics and Society, World Development and the Journal of Empirical Studies.  Besides work on Latin America, Dr. Tiede has  served as a rule of law liaison in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and most recently completed an empirical analysis of sentencing decisions in this country for the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Dr. Tiede teaches courses on public law, judicial politics and comparative judicial systems.