Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stahl on The Suburb as a Legal Concept

Kenneth Stahl has posted The Suburb as a Legal Concept: The Problem of Organization and the Fate of Municipalities in American Law on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article argues that suburban municipalities obtained a privileged status vis-à-vis cities in American law – a reversal of the historical pattern – because the suburbs, as conceived by legislators and the judiciary, were more readily integrated as organs of the modern administrative state. In particular, where the city represented a mode of organization that emphasized autonomy from the sovereign and the rights of the collectivity as against those of the individual, the suburb was constructed as a conduit for the State to exert authority on and distribute goods to isolated single-family homeowners. This article traces the evolution of the legal concept of the municipality by situating it within the context of parallel transformations in two similar corporate organizations: the business corporation and the labor union. Beginning in the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth century, rapid industrialization caused the city, the business corporation, and the labor union to swell in size and influence. Threatened by the challenge these organizations posed to State authority and individual freedom, political elites and the courts responded by stripping them of their corporate legal powers. A more sophisticated approach appeared after the First World War, as the elites opted to reconstruct and reinvigorate organizations in a manner that served their own goals. The organizations were endowed with a collective legal status that superficially recalled the grand stature of their past while codifying their subordinate roles within the bureaucratic state. Thus, the suburb assumed the trappings of corporate personality once reserved for the city even as it proclaimed the emergence of a new legal concept of municipal organization.

Ben Barros

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May 30, 2007 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

AALS Property Section Listserv

I've recently received a number of questions about signing up for the AALS Property Section's listserv.  To sign-up, just fill out this form.  You must be a member of the AALS Property Section to join.  I highly recommend it -- the discussion on the listserv has been very informative.

On a related note, I should clarify that while I'm chair-elect of the Property Section, and often promote various Section events here, there is no formal connection between the Property Section and this blog.

Ben Barros

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May 29, 2007 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dick on Blight in Detroit

Andrew Dick has posted Blight Fight: Detroit's Aggressive Approach to Nuisance Abatement is Sparking Some Redevelopment on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

For those of you who do not know, Wayne County and the City of Detroit have been combatting blight for many years. Several years ago, as a law student working in Michigan, I had the opportunity to work for Wayne County codemning blighted and abandoned properties. The program files legal complaints against these properties and forces the owner to repair the property, sell the property and if the owner does nothing, the County will take title to the property. Not surprisingly, Wayne County's program is one of the most aggressive blight programs in the nation when compared to other large cities. This article speaks to the evoluction of the Wayne County Nuisance Abatement Program and whether its tactics are legal.

Ben Barros

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May 29, 2007 in Recent Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Fun Adverse Possession Case

Bruce Ziff (U. Alberta) pointed me to this story about a great adverse possession case in London:

A homeless pensioner who has slept rough in one of London's plushest beauty spots since 1986 was celebrating Thursday after winning ownership of his plot of land, turning him into an instant millionaire.

Harry Hallowes, 71, secured ownership to a 800 square-metre plot in Hampstead Heath, after a two-year legal battle with developers who tried to evict the pensioner from the grounds of a former nursing home.

A building developer had tried unsuccessfully to evict Hallowes from his makeshift shack since March 2005 as it sought to transform the building into luxury flats.

The feisty pensioner dug his heels in and consulted lawyers who provided evidence which showed that he had been living unchallenged on the plot for 21 years, and thus could claim the land as his own.

The area around Hampstead Heath is well known as an expensive place to live, even by London's inflated property prices, and is home to many stars, celebrities and liberal professionals.

"Someone mentioned a million and someone else said two million, but I'm not impressed with figures. I just wanted a place to live," a very composed Hallowes said after hearing the news.

Ben Barros

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May 25, 2007 in Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ziegler on Cities, Sprawl and the Threat of Terrorism

Edward H. Ziegler (University of Denver) has posted American Cities, Suburban Sprawl, and the Threat of Terrorism on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This article explores Aristotle's statement about politics shaping the design and form of the built environment in the context of urban planning, suburban sprawl, and the threat of terrorism in the United States. The article suggests that sprawl may be accelerated by the threat of terrorism in the United States and discusses sustainable development issues in the context of the terrorist threat to America's urban places. The article explores how zoning and urban planning policies can make a difference in shaping the form and regional sustainability of our built environment and reduce our reliance on automobiles and foreign oil.

Ben Barros

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May 25, 2007 in Land Use, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

British Government Sale of Waterways

From the London Times online:

The Government is considering a billion pound-plus sale of the country’s canals and waterways.

British Waterways, the government-controlled body responsible for 2,200 miles of canals and rivers in the UK, is running a beauty parade of banks with a view to kick-starting a strategic review in the summer. The review will examine all options for the business, including a sale of all or parts of the portfolio, a possible stock market listing or other partnership or funding structures.

A sale could raise as much as £1 billion for the Treasury.

British Waterways is sitting on a property goldmine that includes all the towpaths and land alongside the canals. The company last valued its portfolio at more than £500 million, but that figure could more than double over the coming years as it shares the spoils of housing and office regeneration schemes on its land.

Ben Barros

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May 24, 2007 in Natural Resources, Real Estate Transactions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fun Fact Pattern has an article on an interesting dispute involving adverse possession, unbuildable lots, and more:

HOLBROOK -- In 1908, a downtown Brockton store owner offered his customers a deal: buy a men's suit and he would throw in a tiny plot of land out in the country.

Daniel W. Baker of Besse, Baker, and Co. clothiers had purchased 40 acres of open land known as Edgewood Park in then-rural Holbrook. He divided the property into lots of about 85-by-20 feet or smaller and gave away hundreds. He kept the ones left over when the promotion ended.

This unorthodox marketing ploy has today left a tangle of claims and conflict that could take another century to unravel.

Many of the approximately 500 unbuildable lots are orphans; the town does not know who owns them, and isn't collecting some $750,000 in taxes owed on the parcels.

Moreover, a local sewer contractor who does own a few of the lots is claiming squatter's rights to the entire 40-acre parcel, setting off a confrontation with Daniel Baker's surviving heirs, and some nearby residents who say he's barred them from woods that had been accessible for decades.

"As far as I'm concerned, I own it," said Wayne D. Crosby, who has operated Tri-Town sewerage and other business operations on a portion of the property since 1976.

But Baker's surviving heirs, brothers Peter and John Blatchford, own about 136 lots, according to town records, which they would like to donate to the town. But they have been deadlocked with local officials over a $130,000 bill for back taxes.

In the meantime, the Blatchfords and Crosby have locked horns over access to the property. Crosby has installed a locked gate across one entrance to the property, fences on part of the perimeter, and posted no trespassing signs on some of the disputed land. He has also threatened to call police if anyone comes onto the property, and more pointedly barred Peter Blatchford after he tried to go on the land.

"There's a squatter on the land, and he's locked everyone out," said Peter Blatchford. "I don't want to pay taxes on land I have no access to."

The intensity of the battle has some Holbrook officials leery.

"It almost reminds me of the Hatfields and the McCoys," said Selectman Richard McGaughey.

There's a lot at stake. Land values in this small community have shot up as home buyers have reached deeper into the suburbs to find available and more affordable housing stock. A typical house lot in town might sell for around $250,000, said Kimberly Allard-Moccia , former president of the Plymouth and South Shore Association of Realtors. So 40 acres of mostly undeveloped land is probably worth millions to whomever ends up controlling it.

Squatter's rights, or in legal terms "adverse possession," stem from English common law and allow an individual under certain circumstances to obtain ownership of property without a title after occupying it for a specified number of years. In Massachusetts, the requirement to claim squatter's rights is 20 years.

Ben Barros

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May 23, 2007 in Recent Cases | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Data Mining, Pharmaceutical Style

Tuesday’s Washington Post had an interesting article discussing a recent decision by U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro involving a New Hampshire statute designed to limit the ability of the pharmaceutical industry to obtain information regarding the actions of prescribing physicians. According to the article, drugmakers contract with data-mining companies to obtain information from retail pharmacies allowing the pharmaceutical companies to determine which physicians are issuing prescriptions for their products and, perhaps even more importantly, for competing products. Although the identities of individual patients are protected, the identities of the individual prescribing physicians are revealed to the drug manufacturers, who then use this information to more precisely target their marketing efforts at those individual physicians. Some doctors object to the use of this information on privacy grounds, while others charge that “using such detailed data for drug marketing serves mainly to influence physicians to prescribe more expensive medicines, not necessarily to provide the best treatment.” Judge Barbadoro held the statute to be an unlawful restriction on constitutionally protected commercial speech.

 A quick computer search reveals the case to be IMS Health Inc. v. Ayotte, ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2007 WL 1244077 (D. N.H. April 30, 2007). The court described the statute as “expressly prohibit[ing] the transmission or use of both patient-identifiable data and prescriber-identifiable data for certain commercial uses.” Rejecting the state’s arguments that the statute was a permissible restriction on commercial speech that was “carefully crafted to directly serve the State’s substantial interests in protecting prescriber privacy, promoting public health, and controlling health care costs,” the court held that the statute imposed an unlawful restriction on constitutionally protected commercial speech.

This would be a straight constitutional law case of little or no interest to property profs were it not for the court’s brief mention of testimony by a government official that “commercial use of this information violates prescribers’ ‘trade secrets.’” The defendant State official waived this argument, however, so the question of whether such data are (or could be) intellectual property protected from public disclosure as trade secret information remains undecided.

It is essential to the data-miners’ business plan that the information they gather and transmit is the property of the individual pharmacy and that the pharmacies are free to sell this information to the data-miners and, ultimately, to the drugmakers. Even if the argument that this information is instead the intellectual property of the prescribing physicians may not have been tenable under the current state of New Hampshire property law, a matter not decided in IMS Health, it is interesting to speculate about the effect of a state (or perhaps federal) statute declaring (with prospective effect, to avoid Takings problems) that henceforth ownership of information regarding prescriptions filled within the relevant jurisdiction would rest with the prescribing doctor, who would be free to reveal or withhold it as he or she saw fit. Would such a statute avoid the Free Speech issue on which New Hampshire’s statute foundered without running afoul of some other constitutional hazard?

Carl Christensen
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May 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rankings of Economics Journals: Implications for Law Reviews?

As dedicated propertyprof readers know, we talk about rankings of law journals every now and then.  Thanks to Danny Sokol's generosity I have two recent papers to bring to your attention on rankings. 

"Economic Departments and Their Contributions to the Elite Economic Journals".  The abstract reads:

Given the prestige enjoyed by several economic departments, there is a natural curiosity regarding their contributions to the economic literature. This paper analyzes the appearance of all academic institutions worldwide in the eight leading economic journals, the "Blue Ribbon Eight," from 1991 to 2005. We cite those institutions who appear the most, and analyze the composition of appearances across all eight journals to assess their degree of diversity. While it is tempting to use these measures as a ranking of institutions, the analysis is meant to be purely an historical appreciation of the contributions of these admirable institutions.

Paul Caron and others have already posted on Andrew Oswald's An Examination of the Reliability of Prestigious Scholarly Journals: Evidence and Implications for Decision-Makers.  His abstract reads:

In universities all over the world, hiring and promotion committees regularly hear the argument: this is important work because it is about to appear in prestigious journal X. Moreover, those who allocate levels of research funding, such as in the multi-billion pound Research Assessment Exercise in UK universities, often come under pressure to assess research quality in a mechanical way by using journal prestige ratings. The results in this paper suggest that such tendencies are dangerous. It uses total citations over a quarter of a century as the criterion. The paper finds that it is far better to publish the best article in an issue of a medium-quality journal like the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics than to publish the worst article (or often the worst 4 articles) in an issue of a top journal like the American Economic Review. Implications are discussed.

This raises some interesting possibilities for dissection of law reviews.  And, in fact, an r.a. and I are running some numbers on this right now.  I hope to have some more well-considered thoughts on this shortly.  The quick preview is this: what seems to separate the major journals (like Harvard and Columbia) are the huge citation winners they publish.  The best (in terms of citations) of the even some of the law journals in the 30s do better than the bottom of the elite.

Over at co-op, Dave Hoffman has posted on How Well Can Publication of an Article in a Top Accounting Journal Be Used as a Proxy for its Contribution?

Alfred Brophy
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May 22, 2007 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Davidson on Cooperative Localism

Nestor M. Davidson (University of Colorado), our occasional co-blogger here on Propertyprof, has posted Cooperative Localism: Federal-Local Collaboration in an Era of State Sovereignty on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Direct relations between the federal government and local governments - what this article calls “cooperative localism” - play a significant and underappreciated role in areas of contemporary policy as disparate as homeland security, law enforcement, disaster response, economic development, social services, immigration, and environmental protection. Despite the ubiquity of this practice, a jurisprudential clash is looming that threatens this important facet of intergovernmental relations. Historically, courts have allowed local governments to invoke federal authority as a source of local autonomy, despite the prevailing view of local governments as powerless instrumentalities of the state. The Supreme Court is increasingly suggesting, however, that state control over local governments is a fundamental aspect of state sovereignty worthy of triggering judicial limits on federal power. When this confrontation comes to a head, limiting federal authority to empower local governments would be a mistake. This article instead proposes a new framework for conceptualizing federal empowerment of local governments that is not only consistent with the Court's contemporary view of federal structure, but in fact advances the goals the Court is seeking to achieve. The core concerns animating the Court's current move to devolve and decentralize power are forcefully served by enhancing the autonomy of local governments in the constitutional structure. In short, the very values of federalism on which the Court has relied to enhance state sovereignty provide a compelling localist grounding for the particular exercise of national power represented by cooperative localism.

Ben Barros

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May 22, 2007 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Congress for New Urbanism conference

I just went to the Congress for New Urbanism conference in Philadelphia, where I learned more about various smart growth related issues.  Rather than copy and paste everything I have to say I about it, I refer you to:

The CNU conference blog for everything I have to say about the conference, or

my personal blog for highlights.

I covered issues relating to comprehensive plans, land use and expressways, urban growth and decline, street design, and a bunch of other stuff.

Michael Lewyn, Florida Coastal

May 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on the 70% Bar Pass Proposal

Last week, Al had a post on an ABA proposal regarding bar passage rates that referenced a letter from Gary Rosin in opposition to the proposal.  Brady Coleman, one of Gary's colleagues at South Texas, has sent along a letter disagreeing with Gary's position and arguing in favor of the ABA proposal.  I disagree with some of Brady's points, but his letter, which is reproduced in its entirety below the fold, raises some arguments that should be considered by anyone interested in this issue.

Ben Barros

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Continue reading

May 21, 2007 in Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Moringiello on Tangibility

My colleague Juliet Moringiello (Widener) has posted False Categories in Commercial Law: The (Ir)Relevance of (In)Tangibility on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Almost fifty years ago, Grant Gilmore, the co-reporter for Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, recognized the difficulties that intangible assets pose for commercial law, noting that “if you can see it, count, weigh and measure it, it exists; if you can't, it doesn't.” The original drafters of Article 9 were concerned primarily about facilitating secured transactions in intangible payment rights. Today, the difficulties that Gilmore identified are multiplied by the proliferation of electronic assets, such as Internet domain names and assets in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Although Article 9 of the UCC was revised fairly recently, one area in which it does not adequately cover electronic assets is in its enforcement provisions. The enforcement provisions in Article 9 are based on a false distinction, a distinction based on the tangibility or intangibility of the asset in question. While courts can modernize commercial law through their decisions, courts faced with emerging electronic assets tend to cling to the same false distinction, viewing tangible property as the property paradigm and viewing many intangible assets as either new forms of “intellectual property,” or worse, as “not property” at all.

This paper explores the problems caused by commercial law's fealty, in the creditors' remedies area, to the notion of tangibility, and suggests that courts and other lawmaking bodies look to general property principles in fashioning rules to govern electronic assets. The article analyzes recent judicial decisions and legislative enactments dealing with electronic assets and identifies some common mistakes that lawmaking institutions make in dealing with these new types of assets. The article concludes by analyzing some older decisions in which courts were forced to refine the concept of possession to account for new types of assets and suggests that courts dealing with electronic assets look to these, and not necessarily to other cases dealing with intangibles, in fashioning rules to govern electronic assets.

Ben Barros

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May 18, 2007 in Intellectual Property, Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guntermann and Moon on Age Restrictions and Property Values

Karl L. Guntermann and Seongman Moon (both of Arizona State University) have posted Age Restriction and Property Values on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This study finds evidence of an age restriction premium that is maintained over time and across varying market conditions. Prior research has demonstrated that the reduced uncertainty associated with private covenants and deed restrictions can be capitalized into value. Age-restricted subdivisions provide a measure of certainty that future property owners must meet the same threshold age requirement satisfied by current owners. The evidence presented here is that this enhanced certainty is capitalized into property values, independent of the structural characteristics of individual units or subdivision amenities. Proposed federal regulations for age-restricted projects created uncertainty for several years in lower priced subdivisions that might not have met the new minimum quality standards. However, there is no evidence that this uncertainty impacted house prices.

Ben Barros

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May 18, 2007 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ABA's Proposed Interpretation of its Standards for Accreditation

Thanks to a letter that Professor Gary Rosin of South Texas is circulating (available here), I learned that the ABA is considering what appears to be a pretty important change in its standards for accreditation.  Rosin, you may recall, is the author of an important study on what affects student bar pass rates (including, of course, students' entering credentials).

Standard 301(a) now states that "a law school shall maintain an educational program that prepares its students for admission to the bar."  The proposed interpretation (301-6) would "formalize and clarify the approach taken by the Accreditation Committee in reviewing bar passage data from law schools."

The proposed interpretation provides, among other things that:

If data demonstrate to the Accreditation Committee that the school's first-time bar passage rates frequently are seventy percent or below, the school shall be asked to provide additional data in order to demonstrate compliance with the Standards.

Professor Rosin describes the proposal as establishing "a flat 70% law school [bar pass rate] as prima facie evidence of minimum satisfactory performance of a law school’s academic program."  He points out, quite appropriately, that this discriminates against schools that are in jurisdictions that require high bar pass scores.  (The ABA, as mentioned above, maintains it is already following this practice.)  I'll be interested in hearing where all this goes.  Apparently, there was a public hearing on this in San Francisco today.

I have written about bar pass rates a little in the past over at money-law (including some in response to Bill Henderson's post).  I haven't seen much discussion of this, though RattlerNation has some more details.

Alfred L. Brophy
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May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Modifications to D&K

In the comments to Prawfsblawg's recent post on picking a property text, I promised to do a post on my modifications to D&K.  So here it is.  My supplement varies in size from year-to-year, depending on what I'm trying to do.  Some years I've had time to do some extensive work with the students on takings and/or property theory (I have six credits, which gives me plenty of time).  But here is the core of what I change, focusing on cases that I don't like:

I reorder the first couple of units in the book to create a coherent introduction to the issue of possession through the law of personal property.  So I start with Pierson v. Post, immediately followed by Popov v. Hayashi as a supplement.  I do the rest of capture, then a short unit on bailments using Peet v. Roth Hotel and First American Bank, NA v. D.C.  I think that bailments are worth covering, and don't like their omission from D&K.  I then do finding and gift.

For the next unit, I do possession issues in land, doing discovery, the right to exclude, and adverse possession.  I supplement the right to exclude material with a short excerpt from Lior Strahilevitz's article on the right to exclude.  In adverse possession, I replace Van Valkenburgh v. Lutz with Marengo Cave.  I actually like the facts of Van Valkenburgh, but New York's adverse possession statute is very idiosyncratic, and I like Marengo Cave better as an introduction to adverse possession.  In a short unit on IP, property in the body, and theory, I skip most of the material in the book -- I don't like INS v. AP much since it is so dated.  I was happy to see better treatment of Kozinski's dissent in White v. Samsung in the new edition.  I supplement with Kremen v. Cohen, which is a great IP theory/cyberlaw case.  I teach Moore v. Regents because I love the facts, but I hate the case because of its poor legal reasoning.  I also save the Demsetz material for later when I cover nuisance.

Continuing with my out-of-order approach, I then do Landlord-Tenant.  I replace Ernst v. Conditt with Neal v. Craig Brown Inc.  I have a hard time using a case that screws up the difference between privity of contract and privity of estate to teach privity.

I really focus on problems in the estates and future interests material -- I might actually skip all of the cases on defeasible estates next year.  I've written problems sets for both basic future interests and the rule against perpetuities (if you'd like the problem sets, send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to share them).  I don't teach Symphony Space or any other cases for the RAP, but do talk about a PA case that applied the RAP to an option.  I think that the co-ownership unit works very well, and don't modify it at all.

In the unit on transactions, I skip Rockafellor v. Gray, which is loathsome, though I spend a lot of time the issue of whether the present covenants in a general warranty deed "run with the land."  I do teach Stambovsky v. Ackley even though I don't like it -- I consider cutting it every year.  In the recording material, I skip Board of Ed. v. Hughes, and skip some of the more complicated chain of title problems.  I generally like the servitudes material, though I'm starting to wonder whether Miller v. Lutheran Conference is worth the trouble.  In the land-use unit, I don't teach Euclid for reasons I've discussed previously, though I do lecture briefly on the case and on Euclidian zoning.

My biggest modifications are in the takings unit, which isn't surprising since I'm a takings geek.  I supplement with Madison's essay Property and short excerpts from my articles on Berman and Midkiff (giving background for Kelo) and on the Police Power (focusing on the original understanding of the takings clause).  I lecture on Loretto -- the case really isn't that interesting, though the rule it sets is important, and the version of the case in the book is way too long.  But the biggest change I make is to do excerpts from Commonwealth v. Alger and Mugler v. Kansas before doing Hadacheck, Mahon, Penn Central, and Lucas.  I don't think you can understand either Mahon or Lucas without understanding Alger and Mugler.  (I explain why Alger is important in the article on the Police Power).  I have case edits of both that I'd be happy to share.  I do Palazzolo and Tahoe-Sierra very quickly -- Palazzolo is worth mentioning for its rule on subsequent owners being able to make a takings claim, and Tahoe-Sierra is vaguely interesting for the strategy that the plaintiffs tried to use, but frankly isn't as interesting as many people make it out to be.  I don't think that any serious observer thinks that Justice Stevens's dicta in the case has finally resolved the denominator problem.

I'm always trying to try new things, so I'd be delighted to hear about how others modify their courses.  I'll be visiting at Catholic next year, where Property is a four-credit class, so I'll need to think hard about where to spend my time.

Ben Barros

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May 16, 2007 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cornell/LSE Conference on Property

Cornell Law School and the London School of Economics' Law Department are sponsoring a conference on Techniques of Ownership: Artifacts, Inscriptions, Practices.  The conference is being organized by Greg Alexander (Cornell) and Alain Pottage (LSE), and will be held July 20th & 21st 2007 at the LSE.  Here's the description:

This interdisciplinary conference brings together a range of perspectives for reflection on the question of ownership. The conference theme – techniques of ownership – is designed to focus attention on those social or institutional practices that are taken for granted in many analyses of ownership. Often, theoretical approaches simply accommodate the analysis ownership to models of society and social action that are known in advance of enquiry into the effects of ownership. Many theories of ownership seek only to rationalize existing institutions, practices, and concepts, or to develop normative theories about the most appropriate regime of ownership, based on some foundational value, such as fairness, economic efficiency, or human flourishing. The objective of this meeting is to encourage explorations of the diverse kinds of sociality in which ownership might be involved and which might in some sense be seen as contingent products of ownership. Precisely because it is more suggestive than prescriptive, the theme of ‘technique’ serves as a vehicle for articulating a variety of critical perspectives. The papers canvass sites and contexts such as queues and kibbutzim, artifacts such as passports, patent specifications, and territorial facts; instrumentalities such as the pledge, the biotechnological contract, or modes of inscription, and institutional constructs such as quasi-owners, responsive governors, and excluded subjects.

The following papers will be presented at the conference:

Greg Alexander, Toward a social obligation norm in private property regimes
Hanoch Dagan, Re-imagining takings law
Joe Singer, Property norms: reflections on the externalities of ownership
Laura Underkuffler, Property as constitutional myth: utilities and dangers
Rosemary Coombe, Community subjects and governmentality's limits: revisiting possession
Mariana Valverde, Becoming a stakeholder in the urban moral economy: ownership claims beyond the economic
André Van der Walt, Property and marginality
Kevin Gray, The legal order of the queue
Thomas Scheffer, Owning, not owning, and borrowing an ID card
Kara Swanson, The bureaucracy of genius:  the role of the clerk in the American patent system
Avital Margalit, The modified kibbutz: from communal relations to property rights
Eduardo Peñalver, The problem with land
Nomi Stolzenberg, Facts on the ground
Mario Biagioli, Originality, novelty, and their inscriptions
Annelise Riles, Collateral relations: Property rights in the near future
Alain Pottage, Representation and invention: animate and inanimate embodiments

Ben Barros

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May 14, 2007 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lindsay Robertson Guest Blogging

Robertsonconquest It is my great pleasure to introduce Lindsay G. Robertson, of the University of Oklahoma, who'll be guest blogging with us for a while.

Lindsay's the author of an important volume on Johnson v. McIntosh, Conquest by Law: How the Discovery of America Dispossessed Indigenous Peoples of Their Lands, published by Oxford University Press in 2005.  You may recall our discussion of it last year, in our talk about "Which Case Should Be First."  Now that it's out in paperback I think that your students would enjoy reading it in tandem with Johnson

Lindsay teaches and writes in Native American law and property, as well as legal history, and is working as a consultant to the state department on rights of indigenous peoples.  He holds a J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and is a member of the storied Virginia Law School class of 1986, which produced property and wills profs William Brewbaker and Barry Cushman.

I'm particularly looking forward to his thoughts on Johnson. And I hope he'll talk a little about including Native American law into the property curriculum.

Al Brophy
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May 14, 2007 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

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)