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

June 2011

Editor, Dan Baker djbaker2@central.uh.edu

Previous editions of Faculty Focus can be accessed here.


Aaron Bruhl presented a paper on statutory interpretation at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in San Francisco in early June. In late May, Prof. Bruhl and Prof. Geoff Hoffman presented a program for alumni and local attorneys on how to become a law professor.


Meredith J. Duncan was appointed to and sworn in as a member of the Texas State Bar Grievance Committee for the 2011-2014 term. She also attended the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Law Institute held in San Francisco.


Tracy Hester joined the American Law Institute's annual meeting in San Francisco on May 16-17, where he helped organize a workgroup on potential environmental or energy law initiatives to submit to ALI. On May 18, he co-hosted an American Bar Association workshop on federal and state environmental enforcement issues raised by growing hydraulic fracturing operations in Texas and Pennsylvania. He also participated on May 25-28 in the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation's annual Natural Resource Law Teacher's Conference in Portland, Oregon. On June 1, the American Bar Association's Section on Environment, Energy & Resources named Prof. Hester as chairman of its new Task Force for outreach to young attorneys and academics in the environmental and energy fields. Last, Chamber's USA listed him on June 10 as one of the top environmental lawyers in Texas for the eighth consecutive year.


Geoffrey Hoffman co-presented with Professor Aaron Bruhl on May 21, 2011, a workshop entitled “So You Want to be a Law Professor” and spoke specifically about the hiring process relating to clinical positions and about clinical legal education. On May 24, 2011, Prof. Hoffman along with clinical supervising attorney Susham Modi, Prof. Janet Beck, and student Andrea Penedo met with representatives of the American Immigration Council (AIC) via teleconference to discuss the UH Immigration Clinic’s upcoming publication of a practice advisory concerning the precedent BIA decision in Matter of M-A-M-, relating to competency issues for respondents in immigration court proceedings. The practice advisory will be published through and in conjunction with AIC and is scheduled to be released at the end of the summer or next fall at the latest. On June 3, 2011, Prof. Hoffman hosted the annual Joseph A. Vail Workshop-CLE at UHLC. Presenters included an immigration judge, the deputy chief counsel from the Department of Homeland Security, and a medical doctor who spoke about mental illness and the immigration courts, as well as other distinguished speakers from the ACLU, YMCA, Catholic Charities, and the UH Immigration Clinic, who discussed the latest legal developments in asylum law and competency issues.


Lonny Hoffman testified by invitation before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, regarding H.R. 966, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act during the Spring 2011 semester. The House’s online link for the hearing, along with Prof. Hoffman’s prepared written testimony, can be found at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_03112011.html. After the hearing, Prof. Hoffman completed work on his article, “The Case Against the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act,” a paper that expands significantly on his prepared testimony to the committee. That article will be published later this year in the Houston Law Review. Also in the spring, Prof. Hoffman gave a series of lectures on American Discovery Practices at the University of Paris (Nanterre). At the end of the spring semester, his article, “The Ongoing Milberg Weiss Controversy,” was published by the Review of Litigation (University of Texas) [Volume 30, No. 2 (co-authored with Alan Steinberg, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Houston, Department of Political Science)]. He is currently working on a new paper that examines the role of the federal rules committees in addressing pleading standards in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009).


Craig Joyce, dubbed “Benevolent Presence” by his students, has been teaching as a visiting professor in Beijing at the 2011 Summer Institute on Chinese Law and Business, sponsored by St. Mary’s University and Beihang University (a.k.a. the MIT of China), after attending the American Law Institute’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Joyce also organized the UH Law Center’s IPIL National Conference, ably hosted this year by Prof. Paul M. Janicke, on “Trademark: Today and Tomorrow.” Prof. Joyce completed the first-ever Oral History Project Manual for the American Society for Legal History (ASLH). Finally, Prof. Joyce has been reappointed to the Editorial Boards of H-LAW, the Humanities Social Sciences On-Line discussion network sponsored by ASLH, and the Journal of Supreme Court History, sponsored by the Supreme Court of the United States.


Tom Oldham’s manuscript “With All My Wordly Goods I Thee Endow, or Maybe Not” has been accepted by the Duke Journal of Gender, Law and Policy. Prof. Oldham is also the issue editor for the summer 2011 issue of the Family Law Quarterly. The issue will deal with new ideas regarding child support and spousal support.


Michael A. Olivas (MA 1974, PhD 1977) was inducted into the Ohio State University College of Education Hall of Fame as an honoree on May 13. On May 18-21, Prof. Olivas hosted the 14th annual IHELG Houston Higher Education Law Roundtable, attended by six junior faculty in Law and Education. On June 4, he attended the Annual UHLC/IPIL conference in Santa Fe, NM. Prof. Olivas also published, with Benjamin Baez, “The Legal Environment: The Implementation of Legal Change on Campus,” Ch. 7, in Philip G. Altbach, Patricia J. Gumport & Robert O. Berdahl, eds., American Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century: Social, Political, and Economic Challenges (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011, 3rd ed.), pp. 170-194.


Jordan Paust’s op-ed on “War Powers and Executive Authority in the Libya Conflict” is on-line at Jurist, available at http://jurist.org/forum/2011/05/jordan-paust-libya-war-powers.php. Prof. Paust was also on an Amicus Brief of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies in Konowaloff v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the District Court for the Southern District of New York concerning the Act of State doctrine and confiscated art. He was also interviewed by Univision with respect to a lawsuit brought in Houston by PEMEX against several oil and gas companies. Prof. Paust’s 28-page essay “Nonstate Actor Participation in International Law and the Pretense of Exclusion” was published in 51 Virginia Journal of International Law 977-1004 (2011).


Greg Vetter was an invited participant at a roundtable held by Stanford Law School to discuss the intersection of free/open source software licensing and standard setting, held in Palo Alto on May 26, 2011. He also co-moderated the Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law’s 2011 National Conference in Santa Fe, NM, on June 4, 2011. This year’s conference covered trademark law (see www.ipilsymposium.org).


Jacqueline Weaver taught at Agostinho Neto University’s LLM program in Petroleum Law in early May, in Luanda, Angola. This university is the only public law school in Angola and the LLM program is training many Angolans to ultimately take roles in running the Angolan petroleum industry and related sectors by themselves. Prof. Weaver then taught at Catolica University in Lisbon Portugal, which is the Law Center’s sister school and which has an LLM degree in Global Law. Catolica’s LLM program was recently named as one of the top programs in the world in a ranking by the Financial Times. This factoid came to Prof. Weaver’s knowledge while waiting in the Luandan airport for the flight to Lisbon, during a fairly chaotic, if not incoherent, boarding system, while talking with a fellow passenger who knew about Catolica and was impressed to hear that the University of Houston was connected with its program. Dean Ray Nimmer is largely responsible for this connection.


Bret Wells made a presentation entitled “Tax Ethical Issues Surrounding Reporting Uncertain Tax Positions” at the Tax Executive Institute’s Legal Ethics Seminar on June 14, 2011.