University of Pittsburgh
September 15, 2009

Pitt's School of Law to Host Panel Discussion on First Amendment

Sept. 17 Constitution Day event to focus on the balance between the right to protest and public safety
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The upcoming G-20 Summit, to be held in Pittsburgh Sept. 24-25, has brought to the fore the question of how to protect protestors' First Amendment rights while also protecting the public's safety. The University of Pittsburgh and the School of Law will host a panel discussion at 1:15 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Barco Law Building, Room 107, 3900 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

Taking part in the discussion are three distinguished panelists who are among the key players working to resolve these important constitutional issues. This event is free and open to the public.

Information regarding the three panelists follows:

Jules Lobel, Pitt professor of law and vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national legal human rights/civil rights group based in New York City. Lobel is a leading scholar regarding constitutional rights and a litigator of constitutional cases. He will discuss how government can ensure that the right of protest and dissent is protected in the context of major national security events, such as the G-20 summit or presidential conventions, and what the experience of the past 10 years demonstrates.

Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Pennsylvania. Walczak has a long history of litigating First Amendment and other civil liberties issues. Besides specializing in free-speech and religious-liberty cases, he has handled nationally significant cases involving challenges to widespread police misconduct, substandard public-defender services, and the Secret Service's use of "protest zones" to shield U.S presidents from demonstrators.

Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., Allegheny County District Attorney. As D.A., Zappala is the county's chief law enforcement officer charged with protecting the rights of individuals society and society. Through his work with police chiefs regionally, Zappala played a role in the creation of the Regional Support and Training Center for law enforcement officers. His involvement with agencies that handle domestic violence cases contributed to Allegheny County becoming the first jurisdiction in Pennsylvania to allow domestic violence victims to apply for protection from abuse orders at hospital emergency rooms and other satellite locations. Zappala has been involved in helping local government agencies address security issues posed by the G-20.

For more information, call 412-648-1418.