ProfNet Experts Available on Affirmative Action, DOMA, Anti-Spam Legislation, More

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Jun 27, 2013, 13:30 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please contact them via the contact information at the end of the listing. To receive these updates by email, send a note to with the industries you cover, and we'll add you to the appropriate edition. 

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  • Affirmative Action in Texas
  • Employee Discrimination and Harassment 
  • The Supreme Court: DOMA, Prop 8
  • Voting Rights Act
  • Affirmative Action
  • The Degrees of Caregiving
  • New Anti-Spam Legislation
  • Shale and Water Mix
  • Feds Signal Fierce Prosecutions for Foreign Companies
  • Basics Key in High-Profile Jury Selection
  • Defense Data Breach Offers Security Lessons
  • Smithfield Farms Sale About More Than Ham


  • Assistant Editor – Museum of Modern Art (NY)
  • Local Editor – AOL Patch (CA)
  • Beat Reporter – The Commercial Appeal (TN)


  • Q&A Team: The Role of Humor in Journalism
  • Five Tips for Landing a Second Assignment
  • Media 411: Newsrooms in TV and Film



Affirmative Action in Texas
Kevin Brown
Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
"One of the issues that UT argued was that the concept of critical mass of underrepresented minorities should be determined with reference to the educational mission of UT. Since UT's educational mission was to produce highly educated people for the state of Texas, along with leaders for the state of Texas, in determining critical mass, UT should take into account the percentage of underrepresented minorities in the state. What this would have meant is that if the selective higher education program views itself as educating students for a particular region that has a high percentage of underrepresented minorities, then it could enroll more students through the consideration of race than a program that views its mission as educating students for an area that has a smaller percentage of underrepresented minorities. It appears that Justice Kennedy has rejected this argument. Thus, it means as the percentage of UMRs increases in the U.S., the percentage of minorities admitted through affirmative action cannot."  
Kevin Brown, an expert in the intersection of race, education and the law, is available for any follow on coverage of the Supreme Court's decision in Fisher v. University of Texas.
Contact: Brianne O'Donnell,

Employee Discrimination and Harassment 
Deborah Widiss
Associate Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
"The two decisions – Nassar and Vance – will leave victims of harassment in a particularly vulnerable position, because the Court reduced the level of protection offered to victims of retaliation, while also placing a greater burden on employees to complain about harassment by mid-level managers. The result will be a greater number of employees who are subject to harassment and reasonably feel it would be too risky to complain about it." 
Widiss, an employment discrimination expert – who wrote an amicus brief for Dr. Nassar – is available to discuss the Supreme Court's decisions in two cases: Vance v. Ball State and University of Texas Southwestern v. Nassar.
Contact: Brianne O'Donnell,

The Supreme Court: DOMA, Prop 8
Deborah Widiss
Associate Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
"The Court's ruling is equally important for the intangible rights it provides: the right to have same-sex marriages recognized as real and equal to those of different-sex couples. The Court properly recognizes that DOMA created 'second-tier marriages' – and that doing so is inconsistent with our constitutional guarantees of equality under the law. Tens of thousands of same-sex married couples will receive very important new rights under federal law, covering everything from time off to take care of a spouse, to taxes, to immigration."
Widiss, a preeminent scholar on the same-sex marriage debate, has studied and written several papers and amicus briefs on the subject. She is available to discuss the Supreme Court's decisions on DOMA and Prop 8. Her paper, "Exposing Sex Stereotypes in Recent Same-Sex Marriage Jurisprudence," won the 2008 Dukeminier Award from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Contact: Brianne O'Donnell,

Voting Rights Act
Luis Fuentes-Rohwer
Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law  
"In their decision, the Court agreed that racial discrimination exists yet disapproved of how Congress chose to remedy the problem. If this is not judicial activism, the term has long ceased to have any meaning. There is much debate about this future. For the present, we must ask whether this is the proper role for the judiciary in a country committed to democratic ideals and rule by the people. Where have strict constructionism and judicial restraint gone? The implications for the judicial selection process are clear. If President Obama was not paying attention before today, Shelby County could not make matters any clearer. Judicial ideology matters. A lot."
Voting Rights Act expert Fuentes-Rohwer is available to comment on the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder. His research focuses on the intersection of race and democratic theory, as reflected in the law of democracy in general and the Voting Rights Act in particular. He is interested in the way institutions – and especially courts – are asked to craft and implement the ground rules of American politics.
Contact: Brianne O'Donnell,

Affirmative Action
Michael A. Olivas
Director of Institute of Higher Education Law & Governance
University of Houston Law Center
"In a 7-1 decision, the court said the policy of accepting the top 10 percent of high school graduating classes regardless of race needs greater scrutiny than was given by the Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals. While many University of Texas at Austin freshmen are admitted under the percent plan, others are considered under different criteria that include several factors including race. The decision leaves unsettled the question of continued use of race-based admission policies, although unless and until it is overturned, affirmative action lives on."
Olivas, who helped draft Texas' top 10 percent admissions policy, is available to discuss the matters revolving this case. He is the author of "Suing Alma Mater, Higher Education and the Courts," as well as numerous other books and articles.
Media Contact: Carrie Criado,

The Degrees of Caregiving
Ronald Fatoullah, Esq.
Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorney
Ronald Fatoullah & Associates
"It's a hot topic. Every day millions of people provide care to an aging family member. For some, caregiving is simple. For others it's an exhausting task.
Being thrown into the role of caring for an elderly parent for some, is a welcome obligation, and viewed as a time to 'give back.' For others, it's a daunting burden they resent. Who should be the caregiver in your family? Should you hire help?"
Fatoullah is available to discuss the topics that arise when deciding how to care for an aging parent. He is the founder and managing attorney of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates, a New York law firm that exclusively focuses on the legal and financial challenges of aging: elder law, estate planning, Medicaid eligibility, asset preservation, probate, wills, trusts, guardianships, veteran planning, and planning for same-sex couples.
Media Contact: Carol Schell,

New Anti-Spam Legislation
Lani Barnes
Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. in Charlotte, N.C.
"Canada has enacted new Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL") that is anticipated to take effect in the fall of 2014. Currently, U.S. businesses can send electronic marketing messages to anyone, including Canadian residents, without permission unless and until the recipient opts out by expressly notifying the sender that they do not want to receive such messages. Once CASL goes into effect, companies will not be allowed to send any commercial electronic message ("CEM") to any person or business in Canada without the prior express or implied consent of the recipient, unless the CEM falls within one of the limited exceptions to the new law. As a result, companies and individuals who use electronic marketing to reach customers or potential customers in Canada should start preparing for the new legislation now by developing and implementing compliance programs in order to ensure that they have the appropriate consent from each recipient. Penalties for violating CASL can be severe; the maximum penalty per violation is $1 million for an individual and $10 million for a corporation, and directors and officers may be held personally liable for their company's violation."
Barnes is engaged in the practice of intellectual property and technology law.
Media Contact: Alex Zsoldos,

Shale and Water Mix
Holt Foster
Thompson & Knight in Dallas
"The energy industry's increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has created a growing demand for the millions of barrels of water that are needed to capture oil and natural gas from shale-rich areas. As a result, we're seeing tremendous investment interest and revenue growth for companies that specialize in water management for shale plays. It's estimated that more than 72 billion barrels of water were used for fracking in North America last year. Conventionally, that has meant water storage and the proper hauling and disposing of the treated water used for extraction. But now, private companies with innovative technologies for water purification and re-use are emerging. With disposal and hauling fees approaching $7 per barrel, there are positive economic, regulatory and public relations benefits to water recycling at the well site."
Media Contact: Barry Pound, 

Feds Signal Fierce Prosecutions for Foreign Companies
Tom Fox
FCPA and compliance ethics lawyer and blogger
Tom Fox Law in Houston
"French oil and gas company Total SA recently settled an Iranian bribery case for $398 million following charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (The company paid the fourth-highest fine ever under the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which covers many companies doing business in the U.S.) This FCPA enforcement action shows the DOJ and SEC are targeting foreign-based companies with U.S. operations in a big way, even when the alleged bribery takes place in a third country, as happened in the Total SA case. In addition to the nearly $400 million settlement, Total SA also agreed to implement a best practices compliance program, retain a corporate monitor to oversee this program for three years, and retain a compliance consultant."
Media Contact: Mary Flood, 

Basics Key in High-Profile Jury Selection
Kimberly Priest Johnson
Federal white-collar criminal defense attorney
Priest Johnson PLLC in Dallas
"Even though jury selection in the trial of accused Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes still is months away, there's little doubt it will be a long and laborious process. That fact was borne out with the release of information that the judge in Holmes' case intends to summon 3,500 potential jurors in order to seat a 12-member panel. But despite the Herculean task and complexity of the case, the prosecutors and defense counsel will be well-advised to focus on one thing – bias. There are two types of jurors. There are those who openly demonstrate their bias, and then there's a second group – made up of the rest of us – who have biases that exist only beneath the surface. Good lawyers know they need to do some digging."
Media Contact: Mark Annick, 

Defense Data Breach Offers Security Lessons
Matthew Yarbrough
Cybersecurity attorney
Yarbrough Law Group, P.C. in Dallas
"The data breach of two North Texas-based defense contractors offers lessons for all firms that outsource their production. A recent Pentagon report indicated that Chinese hackers accessed data for nearly 40 U.S. weapons programs, including the V-22 Osprey, which is manufactured by Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter, and an advanced Patriot anti-missile system produced by the Grand Prairie-based Missiles and Fire Control unit of Lockheed Martin. Media reports indicate that the outsourcing of defense work is a contributing factor to the loss of sensitive trade secrets. Just as companies must fiercely guard their confidential information and trade secrets in their own servers and facilities, they must screen subcontractors for their abilities to protect sensitive information, which is the lifeblood of many U.S. corporations."
Media Contact: Dave Moore,

Smithfield Farms Sale About More Than Ham
Clayton Bailey
Agribusiness litigation attorney
Bailey Brauer PLLC in Dallas
"The proposed sale of Smithfield Farms, the country's largest pork producer, to China's Shuanghui International for $7.1 billion ultimately may be positive for the American pork market, but it is nevertheless a complicated transaction unfolding in a difficult political climate. The simmering distrust between the United States and China over trade secret matters, combined with Americans' concern over Shuanghui's track record on food safety issues, mean that the Smithfield transaction is more than 'just business.' There's no denying that, by further opening the Chinese market to American pork exports, it could be a boon for U.S. pork producers, but the big question is how will Americans feel about eating pork that's being produced by a company that's owned by the Chinese?"
Media Contact: Amy Hunt,



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