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

March 2009

 Previous editions of Faculty Focus can be accessed here.


Aaron Bruhl’s article, “The Supreme Court’s Controversial GVR’s – And an Alternative,” was published in the Michigan Law Review and is available at:



Marcilynn Burke has been invited to contribute a chapter in The Public Nature of Public Property, edited by Robin Paul Malloy of Syracuse University College of Law and Michael Diamond of Georgetown University Law Center. The book will be part of a series, Law, Property and Society, to be published by Ashgate.


Gavin Clarkson’s research on tribal access to the capital markets has led to $2 billion of expanded tribal tax-exempt bonding authority being included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. His 2007 article, “Tribal Bonds: Statutory Shackles and Regulatory Restraints on Tribal Economic Development” (85 N.C.L. Rev. 1009), was incorporated into the legislative history by the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Dr. Clarkson was recently honored by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) for his work with the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (KTTT). Prior to this year, the tribe had been guaranteeing approximately $1.1 million in bank loans for tribal members. The bank charged tribal members an interest rate of as much as 16.5% and the tribe deducted the payments from tribal member’s payroll checks. At the same time, the tribe has a comparable amount in CDs on deposit with the same bank, earning substantially less. Dr. Clarkson helped the tribe establish a new tribally owned community development financial institution (CDFI) in 2008 as part of their economic development efforts. He then helped the tribe capitalize the new CDFI entity with $1.5 million in cash, thereby enabling the tribe to take control of the tribal member loan portfolio and significantly reduce the interest rate paid by tribal members by more than half. As a result, the new CDFI has instantly created an internally managed loan portfolio that will produce more than four times what the tribe was earning previously, while significantly reducing the amount of interest paid by tribal members on their loans. NAFOA chose this transaction as its “Deal of the Year”, in part because it presents a model for other tribes to follow. Many tribes are guaranteeing loan portfolios at outside commercial banks on behalf of their tribal members. By setting up their own CDFI and operating it as a “tribal credit union”, a tribe can disintermediate its capital structure, directly support its members, reduce tribal member borrowing costs, and make reasonable profits on these loans.


David Dow published “Bell v. Cone: The Fatal Consequences of Incomplete Failure,” in Death Penalty Stories (2009) edited by John Blume and Jordan Steiker and published by Foundation Press.


Barbara Evans’s article, “Seven Pillars of a New Evidentiary Paradigm: The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Enters the Genomic Era,” will appear in 85 Notre Dame Law Review, see



Her article on health database privacy issues was published earlier this month at 84 Notre Dame Law Review 585. She has been reappointed as a member of the ABA Special Committee on Bioethics and the Law and attended the committee’s midyear meeting. Prof. Evans spoke on health information privacy issues as part of a panel on Hot Topics in Bioethics and Law at the ABA Midyear Convention in Boston. She attended a meeting of the External Advisory Committee of the Duke Clinical and Translational Sciences institute.



Jim Hawkins will present his new paper “Financing Fertility,” at the Harvard-Texas Joint Conference on Commercial Realities, in Austin, Texas on March 27-28. He was selected, along with nine other people, to present his paper at this invitation-only conference for junior commercial law scholars hosted jointly by Harvard Law School and the University of Texas Law School.


Craig Joyce chaired the 2009 Baker Botts Lecture, headlined by Prof. William O. Hennessey of Franklin Pierce Law Center, on “Intellectual Property Law in China.”


Tom Oldham will participate in a dialogue about marital contracts at Cambridge University in June. The dialogue will include faculty members from universities around the world. In connection with a July 2009 meeting of international family lawyers in London, Prof. Oldham will submit to an overview of U.S. law pertaining to the marital property rights of couples divorcing in the U.S. who have lived in more than one country during the marriage.


Michael A. Olivas published “An Essay on Friends, Special Programs, and Pipelines,” 35 J. Coll. & Univ. L. 469 (2009). He appeared on KNME television in Albuquerque, NM, discussing “A Class Apart”, a PBS documentary on Hernandez v. Texas, the subject of his 2006 book; the documentary appeared nationally on public television stations across the country on February 23, 2009, the night before his 58th birthday. (In a remarkable harmonic convergence, the Hernandez trial also happened in 1951.) Prof. Olivas also received the Kaplin Award for excellence in Higher Education scholarship, the inaugural award by Stetson University School of law: he shared the award with University of Virginia law professor emeritus Robert O’Neil.


Jordan Paust was a keynote speaker at the Valparaiso Law Review symposium on Torture at the Valparaiso School of Law, Valparaiso University, February 26. His article (online at SSRN), “The Absolute Prohibition of Torture and Necessary and Appropriate Sanctions, will be published in the Valparaiso Law Review later this year. On March 6, he was a moderator and panelist on “Prosecuting International Core Crimes in the U.S.: Problems, Prospects, and Solutions,” during the International Law Association-West meeting at Willamette University College of Law in Oregon. On March 13, he was a panelist on Terrorism at the Santa Clara University School of Law. His essay, “Terrorism’s Proscription and Core Elements of an Objective Definition” will be published later in the Santa Clara Journal of International Law.


Ronald Scott lectured to students at the UH College of Pharmacy on “HIPAA Privacy for Pharmacists” on February 16.


Greg Vetter presented “Commercial Free and Open Source Software: Knowledge Production, Hybrid Appropriability & Patents” for the Spring 2009 Intellectual Property Workshop Series by the Dean Dinwoodie Center for Intellectual Property Studies at the George Washington University Law School, on February 19, 2009. In addition, on February 27, he presented “Commercial Free and Open Source Software” at the 2009 Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable by the Intellectual Property Law Center at the Drake University Law School. Finally, on February 28, Prof. Vetter was a commentator for a panel at the 2009 Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable on Information Technology and Patents.


Jacqueline Weaver spoke on “The Future of the Petroleum Industry Under Global Warming” at the UH Law Center’s Advanced Oil and Gas Institute in Houston and Dallas in early February.


Stephen Zamora hosted a group of Latin American visitors to the Law Center on February 18. The nine visitors included governmental and private sector leaders from eight Latin American countries. They were touring the U.S. as part of a U.S. State Department “International Visitor Leadership Program.” Law Center Distinguished Lecturer Pat Murphy, attorney Marco Castilla, Political Science Professor Geronimo Cortina and Prof. Zamora gave the group a briefing on major legal issues surrounding U.S. policies toward trade and investment. In addition, on February 26, he gave a lecture on “Amending NAFTA” at Chapman University Law School in Orange, California. The lecture was part of Chapman’s “Chapman Dialogue” series of lectures, which are posted on the law school’s website and include lectures by visiting scholars from throughout the U.S.




Helen Boyce