Faculty Focus--November 2013

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


Editor, Katy Stein Badeaux, kastein@central.uh.edu


Previous editions of Faculty Focus can be accessed here.


November 2013


Janet Beck was an invited speaker at the University of Texas Annual Immigration Law Conference in Austin, Texas in October. Her topic was Family Immigration Law. Professor Beck, accompanying Professor Hoffman, made a presentation to students at the UH Graduate School of Social Work, on the 6th amendment right to counsel vis-à-vis mental competency in immigration court proceedings.  Ms. Beck also spoke on how evaluations by mental health professionals help the student attorneys in the Clinic prove the legal requirement of mental harm to Clinic clients.  Ms. Beck explained that this sometimes means that a client applying for asylum who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has to relive the trauma in order to present her story to the immigration court or the U.S. Asylum office.


Barbara Evans’ article, Mining the Human Genome after Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, has been accepted by the Nature journal, Genetics in Medicine. The article reconceives the human genome as a natural resource and cites Professor Jacqueline Weaver’s work on oilfield unitization agreements to explain why natural resource law is superior to IP law as a framework for promoting useful innovation in medical genetics. On October 27-28, Professor Evans attended a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars Program meeting in New York. On October 29, Professor Evans, along with Professors Kumar and Roberts, held a Genetics Symposium for UHLC students. On November 17-18, she traveled to Washington for a meeting of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Ethics Principles and Guidelines for Health Standards for Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflight.


Geoffrey Hoffman’s op-ed discussing Nina Davuluri as the first Indian American Miss America and immigration reform was published on the PolicyMic website at http://www.policymic.com/articles/68613/immigration-reform-2013-the-shutdown-and-miss-america-all-have-one-thing-in-common The piece is also available at the ImmProf Blog,  http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2013/10/immigration-reform-2013-the-shutdown-and-miss-america-all-have-one-thing-in-common.html. Professor Hoffman also attended a DHS Roundtable on civil rights and civil liberties. Additionally, Professor Hoffman spoke at the UH Graduate College of Social Work along with supervising attorneys from the UH Immigration Clinic. The topic of his talk was “Fear, Need, and Humanity: Moving Immigration Policy Forward in the U.S.” See link for schedule of speakers: http://www.sw.uh.edu/news/events/2013_PolicyInsiderSeries/2013_PolicyInsidersSeries.pdf. Professor Hoffman gave a presentation on refugee and asylum law in Professor Hester’s Climate Change class; the issue is of special importance given “environmental refugees” who are becoming unfortunately increasingly common.


Robert B. Johnson acted as moderator for the Consumer Law Practice & Strategies conference held at the University of Houston Law Center on Thursday, September 27th. The conference was the first in a series of CLE events for University of Houston Law Center alumni. The event attracted over 130 practicing attorneys. In late September, Robert released his article Breaking Down Small Claims in the New Justice Court in the Fall 2013 edition of the Journal of Commercial & Consumer Law. On Saturday, October 5th, Robert lectured a group of 35 consumers on the new rules governing small claims cases in Justice Court. On Wednesday, November 12, Robert was the guest speaker for the Houston Bar Association’s Commercial & Consumer Law luncheon. Robert gave an hour long lecture to local attorneys on the practical application of Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 500 to 510.


Craig Joyce, the namesake of the American Society for Legal History’s “Craig Joyce Award,” attended ASLH’s Annual Meeting in Miami, where he reported to the Society’s Board as chair of two committees (Annual Meetings and History of the Society),  The “HOTS” Committee is charged with capturing, as curiously had not been done before, the history of the history society.  The Annual Meetings Committee is charged with continuing the viability of ASLH’s annual meetings tradition of excellence in the face of financial constraints engendered by the current crisis of funding in American legal education.


Sapna Kumar gave a talk titled "Gene Patents and Human Rights" at the Whittier Law School symposium "The Global Challenge: The Fine Line Between Incentivizing Innovation and Protecting Human Rights." She has also been invited to present her article Public Law, Standing, and the Federal Circuit at the Hofstra IP Colloquium.


Ellen Marrus presented at the National Juvenile Defender Center Annual Summit on November 1 – 3, 2013, in Phoenix, Arizona on Ethics and Juvenile Defense and Networking on Juvenile Issues in the Southwest Region. She also has become a Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) certified trainer and will be involved in the training of juvenile defenders in Shelby County, Tennessee this coming December.


Rick McElvaney spoke on three topics at the Military and Veterans Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, 21st Biennial Institute, on October 25, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. He presented on the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Fair Debt Collection, and Landlord and Tenant Law.


Michael A. Olivas was appointed to chair the AALS Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT), effective after the January Annual Meeting. He attended a meeting of CAFT in DC to consult on a case before the group. While in DC, he also participated in two sessions of the National Academy of Education (the Education equivalent of ALI), as a mentor to four junior faculty and as an advisor to several Academy Spencer Foundation-funded Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellows. He gave the Howard Bowen Distinguished Lecture at the Claremont Graduate University, on his new Johns Hopkins University Press book, Suing Alma Mater. He also published From A “Legal Organization of Militants” Into A “Law Firm for the Latino Community”: MALDEF and the Purposive Cases of Keyes, Rodriguez, and Plyler, 90 Denver University Law Review 1151-1208 (2013).


Jordan Paust was a commentator after the presentation of Professor Michael Newton of Vanderbilt University on war crimes in Syria, which was sponsored by the Federalist Society and the International Law Society October 31st. Also, Paust, Bassiouni, Scharf, et al., Human Rights Module:  On Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, Other Crimes Against Human Rights, and War Crimes (3d ed. 2013) has been published by Carolina Academic Press. It is a softcover Module of cases and materials with a self-contained Documents Section. Jordan Paust was a member of one of the plenary panels at the Canadian Council on International Law annual meeting in Ottawa on November 16th. The panel addressed the role of non-state actors and methodological approaches to international law.


Susan Sakmar published her most recent law review article Global Gas Markets: The Role of LNG in the Golden Age of Gas and the Globalization of LNG Trade, 35 Houston J. Int’l Law 655 (2013). Professor Sakmar presented “Energy for the 21st Century:  Opportunities and Challenges for LNG” which focused on the legal process for U.S. LNG Exports at the Fall meeting of the Potential Gas Committee, October 6-7, 2013 in Monterey, CA. 


Spencer Simons is participating in an ABA site team visit at the Tampa Bay campus of Cooley Law School from November 17 through November 20. Closer to home, Spencer has accepted an invitation from Interim Associate Provost F. Richard Olenchak to serve as a founding member of the Faculty Engagement and Development (FED) Advisory Board


Greg Vetter presented the topic of Software Protection on October 30th as a part of the University of Texas at Austin’s hosting of the University of St. Gallen Postgraduate Program Executive M.B.L.-HSG. The Executive Masters in European and International Business Law (M.B.L.-HSG) is a postgraduate law course of study by the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, one of the top European Universities for the study of European and International Business Law.  Professor Vetter also hosted Professor Elizabeth Rowe, Professor Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, in her visit to Houston on November 7-8, 2013, to present the 20th Annual IPIL Fall Lecture, sponsored by the Ronald A. Katz Foundation.


Jacqueline Weaver gave two lectures at the Rocky Mountain Short Course in Oil and Gas Law in Denver, Colorado on October 21 on the nature of the oil and gas lease and on the duration of leases.  She also spoke at the Houston Bar Association's Fall reception at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  


Bret Wells co-presented an outline entitled "Ethical Issues Related to Tax Opinions" with Ira Shepard as part of the inaugural Tax LLM Reunion held on October 11 at UHLC.  Professor Wells and Professor Shepard then presented the same paper to the Wednesday Tax Forum on October 15 and to the Tax Section of the Houston Bar Association on October 16.


Kellen Zale presented her paper "The Government's Right to Destroy" at the Local Government Scholars workshop, held on October 25-26 at Chapman University School of Law.