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FACULTY FOCUS

GERALDINE MOOHR                                        section. In a few years it had grown into a thriving,          Moohr counts among her proudest
                                                       though small, practice,” Moohr says. She was               accomplishments the numerous students who have
    Geraldine Szott Moohr didn’t attend law school     fascinated by the porous line between civil wrongs         turned their seminar papers into articles published
until she was 40. But, she more than made up for       and crimes like fraud, leading her to research and         in various law reviews, as well as the use of her own
lost time.                                             write about such issues.                                   work by other scholars, as shown in citations in
                                                                                                                  more than 500 law review articles.
    Moohr, who this year is stepping down                  “White-collar crime is fairly new, undefined,
from her teaching duties at UH Law Center, is a        and replete with undecided issues,” she says. “It’s            “I have thrived as a law professor. I enjoy
renowned scholar of criminal law, particularly         unlike street crime, unlike robbery or assault,            teaching very much. I enjoy working with students,
fraud, corruption, intellectual property theft, and    where we know what the harm is and can judge the           getting to know them personally. I enjoy very much
other types of “white-collar crime.”                   immorality of conduct. In white-collar crime, we           working with my research assistants. I always
                                                       still don’t have a single definition of terms like fraud.  help them learn from helping me, so they are
    Moohr graduated first in the 1991 class at         Prosecutors and defense attorneys are faced with a         participating in the project,” she says.
American University College of Law, where she          set of statutes that are still unformed.”
was editor-in-chief of the law review. She joined the                                                                 For Moohr, her experiences have demonstrated
UHLC faculty in 1995, after working as an associate        In her research, Moohr suggested how                   “the happenstance or serendipity of life. I don’t
at the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington &           certain statutes could be applied and their varying        believe you can overly plan or have one purpose in
Burling, where her practice focused on commercial      interpretations made more uniform to accomplish            life. Everyone adjusts to new paths, and that’s part
fraud and included arbitrations as well as trials.     a better result. She explains, “By better, I mean a        of living.”
                                                       statute that’s stronger, that’s more likely to deter
    “I began in their nascent white-collar crime       others, that’s more likely to punish the really wicked,        Now that she’s retiring from teaching, she’s
                                                       and not punish those who are less culpable.”               looking forward to completing two other books
                                                                                                                  under contract, as well as writing more articles. She
                                                           In the fall of 2001, the Enron bankruptcy and          will also resume some activities that she hadn’t been
                                                       fraud demanded her attention. “It was staring me           able to pursue while teaching.
                                                       in the face because we in Houston were so affected
                                                       by it,” she says. “I wrote several pieces on the legal         Those activities include traveling abroad – she
                                                       issues presented by the Enron scandal, following a         thoroughly enjoyed a recent trip to Turkey – as well
                                                       trail of cases through appellate courts, and watched       as reading for pleasure, such as her current foray
                                                       how succeeding courts applied the initial rulings.”        into George Eliot’s “Middlemarch.” “I’m looking
                                                                                                                  forward to a broader life. When you teach and write,
                                                           In addition to numerous articles in law review         it’s quite a narrow path, though a deep one,” she says.
                                                       journals, Moohr presented many papers at academic
                                                       conferences throughout her career. She also co-                Moohr feels that the Law Center has provided
                                                       authored the sixth edition of the text “Criminal           so much to her: a good life, wonderful colleagues,
                                                       Law” (with Joseph Cook, Linda Malone, and Paul             exceptional staff, engaging students, and most of
                                                       Marcus), as well as the casebook, “The Criminal Law        all, a challenging and productive career. No matter
                                                       of Intellectual Property and Information.”                 where her future plans may lead, she says she will
                                                                                                                  always “stay in touch.”

LAURA OREN ’80                                         America of the ’70s led Laura Oren to a career in          first in her class in 1980 and was second in the
                                                       law that would focus over three decades on civil           State of Texas on her bar exam. She took a clinic
     Research in London about the historical           rights, constitutional law, women’s rights, family         course during law school that fortuitously involved
welfare of women in working-class families and         law, and children.                                         her at the trial level in the Plyler v. Doe case. The
first-hand experience with gender inequality in                                                                   Supreme Court’s landmark decision struck down
                                                           “I came to Houston in 1974 when there were a           laws denying public education to undocumented
                                                       lot of things going on with women and their roles,”        immigrant children. After graduation, Oren
                                                       said the Queens, NY, native. Armed with a Ph.D. in         went on to private practice in civil rights law and
                                                       British history from Yale, Oren already had taught         appellate work. She joined the Law Center faculty
                                                       history at the college level. She became very active       in 1986, specializing in teaching Constitutional
                                                       in the Houston community just after Congress               and Family Law. She also served as co-director of
                                                       had passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of             the school’s Center for Children, Law & Policy,
                                                       1974. She was an organizer and first president of          a natural outgrowth of her interest in children’s
                                                       the Houston Area Feminist Federal Credit Union             rights and welfare that she “stumbled into” in her
                                                       (HAFFCU), a federally chartered institution with 26        student clinic experience with the Plyler case.
                                                       affiliated women’s groups. Oren and many other
                                                       volunteers, including several women and men                    Oren has seen many changes in the school,
                                                       who also graduated from the Law Center, founded            students, and the law itself over the years. Incoming
                                                       HAFFCU in response to the discriminatory lending           classes are smaller, and the average age is generally
                                                       practices of the day.                                      younger, she said. “When I started teaching, many
                                                                                                                  of the students were older than the average student
                                                           In 1977, she enrolled in the University of             today and had a previous career.” Classes are much
                                                       Houston Bates College of Law. She graduated

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