March 8, 2013
Teaching Property by Flipping the Classroom
One thing that I probably don't blog about enough is teaching methodology. That's why I was particularly excited to receive the following email from Property Prof, friend-of-the-blog, and all-round good guy Tim Iglesias (I post this with Tim's gracious permission):
As I'm sure you know, there's been a lot of discussion around revising teaching methods lately, in part as a response to the crises in legal education and the job market.
One method that's been touted quite a bit in elementary and high school teaching and more recently in undergraduate education is "flipping the classroom," i.e. providing students with (and expecting them to absorb) "content" before the class meeting (either by written materials, by pre-recorded lectures they can watch or by on-line materials), and then using the class meeting for analysis, problem-solving and exercises rather than "information transfer." Of course, in one sense, that is what the traditional Socratic Method aspires to. In any case, I'm considering doing some variation of "flipping" for at least some topics in my Property Law course. And, rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm interested to know if any Property Law professors have tried it and are willing to share their "lessons learned" or, even better, their materials.
I'm curious about this as well. Has anyone out there had any experiences with this methodology?
Tirres on Property Law as Immigration Law
Allison Tirres (DePaul) has posted Property Law as Immigration Law: The Creation of Non-Citizen Property Rights on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This Article explores the collusion of states and the federal government in encouraging migration and expanding notions of membership in the American polity. It is the first sustained treatment of the creation of property rights for non-citizens in American law. In the mid-nineteenth century, eleven states adopted provisions in their constitutions guaranteeing the property rights of resident aliens. Prior to this period, state courts had restricted non-citizen property rights, applying English common law doctrine. Under the common law, aliens were unable lawfully to hold or inherit property; the sovereign could force a property forfeiture at any time. Additions to state constitutions dramatically altered this scheme. Iowa, Wisconsin, California and Michigan led the way, including these rights in their state constitutions prior to the Civil War. In this article, I place these constitutional developments in the larger context of the histories of immigration, westward expansion, and property reform. I show that federal territorial law played a critical role in the expansion of non-citizen property rights at the state level. Federal law allowed for fee simple alien property ownership and alien suffrage; these rights directly influenced proponents of state property reform. I argue that both the federal government and the states utilized property law as a form of immigration regulation: not to expel migrants but rather to attract them. At the same time, these reform efforts held the seeds of restrictive policies that would develop later in the twentieth century. Becoming “American” through property ownership was not a fully inclusive process; from the outset it was limited by assumptions about origin, race, and territorial location.
March 7, 2013
Can SimCity Teach Us Anything About the Cities of the Future?
SimCity is an urban-planning/city-building video game and one of the best-selling computer games of all-time. The newest reboot of the series, SimCity (2013), was released this week to much critical acclaim. Over at Slate, Adam Sneed asks if the game can teach us anything about the future of urban planning:
Another way SimCity accurately captures in the leading edge of urban planning is through its use of Big Data. Cities around the world are using sensors to measure everything from energy and water usage to pollution levels and crime trends. The game puts the player at the helm of the ultimate smart city as it tracks just about every metric of life in the simulation. At the click of a button, dynamic, colorful maps—inspired by the infographics of data scientist Edward Tufte—present real-time data on traffic, crime, pollution, public health, property values, and much more. (There’s even a map showing human waste as it flows to sewage treatment plants—a gross, mesmerizing way to find the tempo of a city.)
The real problem for the game’s designers: figuring out how to turn massive amounts of data into meaningful information. “We knew from previous SimCitys that there’s this data overload that can happen that turns off a lot of players,” said Stone Librande, SimCity’s lead designer. [...] That’s a fact that real cities need to realize as they embrace technology and data to help inform their citizens. They can collect and release all kinds of data, but it’s essentially meaningless if it’s not presented in a useful way.
Property Profs may also enjoy that FastCoExist brought together a bunch of urban planners to play SimCity, thinking that they would come together to create an urban utopia, yet the planners ended up becoming awfully competitive.
Levine-Schnur on Agreements Between Municipalities and Land Developers
Ronit Levine-Schnur (Hebrew University) has posted Bargained Land Development and the Rationales of Land Use Law on bepress. Here's the abstract:
In the coming months, the United States Supreme Court will hand down its decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, a high-profile “takings” case that will set the precedent for what legal requirements govern land development negotiations between land owners and local authorities. This Article addresses an important normative gap in the legal theory that the Court will have to address: assuming that bargained agreements between municipalities and land developers is a necessary step in the land development process, what substantive legal principle should govern their legitimacy?
This Article draws upon the theory and practical realities underlying contemporary land use law to articulate a clear substantive legal construct for evaluating bargained land development. The efficiency and public policy rationales of this construct are then discussed. Ultimately, the questions to be considered are to what extent was the existing regulation changed to meet the developer’s request and to what extent this change enabled the developer to internalize urban surpluses. The level of discretion afforded to local governments in their negotiations with property owners will hinge upon the application of these considerations to the facts before the court.
March 6, 2013
The 30 Best Places To Be If You Love Books
Buzzfeed puts together a listicle of libraries, reading nooks, and book stores.
Martinez on Bikinis and Efficient Trespass Law
John Martinez (Utah) has posted Bikinis and Efficient Trespass Law on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
On Valentine’s Day 2013, a mother and her two daughters walked into a Barnes & Noble bookstore and put sticky notes strategically on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue featuring Kate Upton in a skimpy bikini. Current trespass law at times emphasizes that a mere physical intrusion suffices. Under that “right to exclude” approach, Barnes & Noble could easily prove that a trespass had occurred. At other times, however, trespass law focuses on the “right to use,” and instead seeks to determine whether any given intrusion interferes with the present beneficial use of the landowner’s premises. Using economic efficiency analysis, this article suggests that the right to exclude approach leads to fewer transaction costs and therefore is the economically efficient - and therefore preferable - legal rule.
March 5, 2013
This video about wealth inequality in America has gone viral:
The Mortgage Shell Game
In the NY Times, Elizabeth Lynch reviews the mortgage settlement between the federal government and the big banks:
a year later, it’s clear that the settlement hasn’t worked as planned. Banks have dragged their feet in modifying first mortgages, much less agreeing to forgive part of the principal on homes that are underwater. In fact, the deal contained a few flaws. It has allowed banks to push homeowners into short sales, an alternative to foreclosure whereby the distressed homeowner sells the property for less than the debt that is owed. Not all short sales are bad — some homeowners are happy to walk away with the debt cleared — but as a matter of social policy, the program has failed to keep people in their homes.
Watts on Who Should Own a Federal Judge’s Papers
Kathryn Watts (Washington) has posted Judges and Their Papers (NYU Law Review) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
should own a federal judge’s papers? This question has rarely been
asked. Instead, it has generally been accepted that the justices of the
U.S. Supreme Court and other federal judges own their own working
papers, which include papers created by judges relating to their
official duties, such as internal draft opinions, confidential vote
sheets, and case-related correspondence. This longstanding tradition of
private ownership has led to tremendous inconsistency. For example,
Justice Thurgood Marshall’s papers were released just two years after he
left the bench, revealing behind-the-scenes details about major cases
involving issues like abortion and flag burning. In contrast, Justice
David Souter’s papers will remain closed until the 50th anniversary of
his retirement, and substantial portions of Justice Byron White’s
papers, including files relating to the landmark case of Miranda v.
Arizona, were shredded. In addition, many collections of lower federal
court judges’ papers have been scattered in the hands of judges’
families. Notably, this private ownership model has persisted despite
the fact that our country’s treatment of presidential records shifted
from private to public ownership through the Presidential Records Act of
1978. Furthermore, private ownership of judicial papers has endured
even though it has proven ill-equipped to balance the many competing
interests at stake, ranging from calls for governmental accountability
and transparency on the one hand to the judiciary’s independence,
confidentiality and collegiality on the other.
This Article is the first to give significant attention to the question of who should own federal judges’ working papers and what should happen to the papers once a judge leaves the bench. Upon the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Presidential Records Act, this Article argues that judges’ working papers should be treated as governmental property — just as presidential papers are. Although there are important differences between the roles of President and judge, none of the differences suggest that judicial papers should be treated as a species of private property. Rather, the unique position of federal judges, including the judiciary’s independence, should be taken into account when crafting rules that speak to reasonable access to and disposition of judicial papers — not when answering the threshold question of ownership. Ultimately, this Article — giving renewed attention to a long forgotten 1977 governmental study commissioned by Congress — argues that Congress should declare judicial papers public property and should empower the judiciary to promulgate rules implementing the shift to public ownership. These would include, for example, rules governing the timing of public release of judicial papers. By involving the judiciary in implementing the shift to public ownership, Congress would enhance the likelihood of judicial cooperation, mitigate separation of powers concerns, and enable the judiciary to safeguard judicial independence, collegiality and confidentiality.
March 4, 2013
The Most Amazing Example of Sprawl in America
The DC Streetsblog highlights two houses in suburban Orlando with adjoining backyards whose front doors are separated by seven miles of roads.
The blog authors share:
Windy street patterns, full of cul-de-sacs and circles, have become such a ubiquitous feature of the suburbs that they mostly escape remark. But disconnected streets have many insidious consequences for the environment, public health, and social equity. For one, the lack of a functional street grid funnels traffic onto wide arterial roads — which tend to be the most dangerous places for pedestrians. Furthermore, disconnected streets discourage trips by foot or bike. People who can drive have no incentive to walk or bike anywhere because the trips would be too long and dangerous, while people who can’t drive are effectively trapped in their own homes, or are highly dependent on caretakers.
Floor Plan Art
Spanish interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde has hand-drawn an wonderfully detailed series of floor plans that map out the apartments and houses from numerous popular TV shows. If you have a SImpsons fanatic in the family, you should check out Lizarralde's Etsy store.
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