Saturday, May 12, 2007

Leonardo DiCaprio's Property Lawsuit

Last year it was Purple Pain for Prince's Landlord.  This year's celebrity lawsuit involves the basketball court that Leonardo DiCaprio is putting on his property.  According to, his neighbors filed a lawsuit "alleging that DiCaprio's backyard renovation for the recreation area has caused damage to their uphill property since July 2004. DiCaprio 'maliciously' crossed onto the couple's property, cutting and removing hedges, excavating 'earth, granite and bedrock,' which has destabilized their deck and pool, the Superior Court suit alleges."

Thanks to the magic of the internet and, here's the complaint.

This has all the makings of a great classroom discussion.

Alfred Brophy
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May 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Zoltek Amicus Brief

Adam Mossoff (Michigan State) has posted the amicus brief that he drafted in support of cert. in  Zoltek Corp v. U.S.  The brief was joined by 27 law profs in addition to Adam, including yours truly.  The list of professors is a great illustration of the oddities of alphabetical order -- I'm up near the top of the list, and such luminaries as Henry Smith and Eugene Volokh are towards the bottom.

Ben Barros

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May 11, 2007 in Recent Cases, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Selecting a Property Casebook

PrawfsBlawg is running a series of posts collecting advice for new profs teaching various subjects.  One post is on selecting a casebook for property.  Drop by and add your two cents.

Ben Barros

May 11, 2007 in Teaching | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Adolphson and Ramseyer on Property Rights in Medieval Japan

Mikael Adolphson and J. Mark Ramseyer (Harvard) have posted Property Rights in Medieval Japan: The Role of Buddhist Temples and Monasteries on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Medieval Japanese governments only haphazardly enforced claims to scarce resources. Necessarily, this presented landholders with a void. To obtain the enforcement the governments did not offer, many turned to institutions affiliated with the fractious Buddhist church instead. Temples and monasteries enjoyed an exemption from tax on their lands, and controlled an array of financial and human resources with which they could adjudicate and enforce claims to scarce resources. To obtain access to that exemption and those resources, landholders “commended” their land to them, and paid them a share of the harvest. In exchange, the temples and monasteries exempted them from tax, adjudicated disputes internal to the estate, and protected their estates against external threats. Effectively, the temples and monasteries competed in a market for basic governmental services.

Ben Barros

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May 10, 2007 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Baker and Konar-Steenberg on Zoning and the Dormant Commerce Clause

John M. Baker and Mehmet K. Konar-Steenberg (both of William Mitchell) have posted 'Drawn from Local Knowledge...And Conformed to Local Wants': Zoning and Incremental Reform of Dormant Commerce Clause Doctrine on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

With the proliferation of measures by local governments to preserve the local character of their communities in the face of sprawling retail development, the trickle of land use cases in which the dormant Commerce Clause plays a significant role seems likely to turn into a flood akin to the surge of dormant Commerce Clause garbage cases in the 1990's. As these cases begin to percolate up through the system, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will soon be confronted with demands to clarify how its dormant Commerce Clause doctrine applies in zoning cases. When it does so, it will also have to confront a doctrine that for decades has been harshly criticized by many legal commentators and a few Justices for its theoretical incoherency and unpredictable (some would say ad hoc) outcomes. In particular, the Court's confused approach in the branch of dormant Commerce Clause doctrine analyzing state laws thought to have “discriminatory effects” (as distinct from laws motivated by discriminatory intent) has drawn much of the critical fire. But despite this persistent criticism from within and without, the Court has not yet budged from this aspect of its doctrine.

This article argues that the time for such a reappraisal is long overdue, and that the coming wave of dormant Commerce Clause zoning cases provides a unique opportunity to establish a beachhead for further reforms of dormant Commerce Clause doctrine. Accordingly, this article seeks to provide a principled argument that application of the discriminatory effects branch of the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine is unjustified in zoning cases. Part II begins the discussion with an examination of the basic framework of dormant Commerce Clause doctrine and illustrates how the “discriminatory effects” prong of that framework has resulted in considerable doctrinal ambiguity. We also identify the special problems that the effects analysis poses for zoning. Part III then summarizes reform proposals to date, most of which are focused on the effects analysis. The argument builds on these earlier effects in an attempt to show that enforcement of the discriminatory effects prong of the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine is of limited value in advancing the goals of the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine, and reinvigorates “classic” Supreme Court doctrine recognizing the value of preserving local regulation of local concerns.

Ben Barros

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May 10, 2007 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Corporate Law and Democracy

Welcome to the blogosphere, Renee Jones' Corporate Law and Democacy  blog.  With Professors Jones and Kent Greenfield (whose Failure of Corporate Law we discussed a little here in a post on Daniel Hamilton's Limits of Sovereignty), Boston College Law School has emerged as one of the leading schools for progressive corporate scholarship. 

And speaking of progressive scholarship, today's mail brought a copy of Dalia Tsuk Mitchell's Architect of Justice: Felix S. Cohen and the Founding of American Legal Pluralism.

I'm looking forward to learning more.

Alfred Brophy
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May 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iaione on Local Public Entrepreneurship

Christian Iaione (Sapienza Università di Roma and NYU Law School) has posted Local Self-Government, Local Public Entrepreneurship and Judicial Intervention: The Aftermath of Global Competition Among Local Governments? on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Local public entrepreneurship is a concept which encompasses a variety of activities carried out by local governments to foster local economic development. The first part of this paper puts forward local public entrepreneurship as a windfall of the right to local self-government. In the second part two cases are presented - one from EU and one from US - where local public entrepreneurship is playing a major role. However, in the EU the ECJ jurisprudence is discouraging local governments to engage in such activities thereby undermining the right to local self-government. By contrast, the US legal system actively encourages a high level of local public entrepreneurship for the production of urban services and infrastructure. The third and conclusive part of the paper addresses the implications of globalization for local development and questions whether normative action to regulate local public entrepreneurship shall be taken at the international law.

Ben Barros

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May 9, 2007 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 7, 2007

More on Al Brophy, Rock Star

Brophy groupies will want to check out the recent comment to our earlier Al Brophy, Rock Star post, by one of Al's former students at Hawaii, featuring a list of Brophy's greatest hits.

Ben Barros

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May 7, 2007 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Caplin et al. on Shared Equity Mortgages

Andrew Caplin (NYU Dep't of Economics) and a group of co-authors from Fannie Mae and NYU have posted Shared Equity Mortgages, Housing Affordability, and Homeownership on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

The homeownership rate rose from 65% in 1995 to 69% in 2005, yet this rise appears difficult to sustain. We argue that the development of new shared equity mortgages (SEMs) that blur the lines between debt and equity would propel further advances in homeownership. The rationale for these mortgages is that the broad financial markets values shares in individual housing returns higher than do hard-pressed prospective homeowners. We describe a new class of SEM and provide survey evidence that the majority of households would prefer these SEMs over interest only and other currently popular mortgages. Financial simulations confirm the value of the securitized SEMs to investors. We present “back of the envelope” computations suggesting an increase in the overall U.S. homeownership of rate of between 1% and 1.5% would be the likely result of development of SEM markets.

Ben Barros

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May 7, 2007 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)