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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Possession as the Root of Title

Over at How Appealing, Howard Bashman reports on a recent 4th Circuit property case (excerpt):

"That possession is nine-tenths of the law is a truism hardly bearing repetition. Statements to this effect have existed almost as long as the common law itself." A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today issued an opinion that begins, "This case concerns the ownership of papers from the administrations of two governors of South Carolina during the Civil War."

In that opinion, written by Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, the Fourth Circuit affirms a federal district court's ruling that the State of South Carolina "failed to establish that the papers constituted public property under South Carolina law of the Civil War era." As a result, a man who, according to today's opinion, "found the papers in 1999 or 2000 in a shopping bag in a closet at his late stepmother's home" retains ownership of the documents.

More discussion and more links at How Appealing here. This is the same case Al just posted about.

Rick Duncan

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