Thursday, July 23, 2009

Craig on Climate Change and Public Trust

Robin Kundis Craig (Florida State) has posted Adapting to Climate Change: The Potential Role of State Common Law Public Trust Doctrines on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Climate change is already altering historical expectations regarding water supply and aquatic ecosystems. In turn, changes in water supply may call into question the continued utility of existing water law rules in many areas of the country, unsettling private rights and expectations in water allocations in favor of more public interests and values in water, including protections for ecosystems and their services. Water law is already more sensitive than many other kinds of law to the ecological conditions that dominate in an area. As a result, water law is a likely legal mechanism for effectuating climate change adaptation, at least as relates to water resources. In particular, and far more than most fields of property law, water law is almost uniquely potentially available to support some of the adaptive management regimes that climate change adaptation will require. This Article argues that, within water law, state public trust doctrines can be particularly well-suited to providing legal support for adaptive management-based climate change adaptation regimes. In particular, it notes that courts have long adapted public trust doctrines in the United States to local needs and circumstances, and several states now explicitly characterize their public trust doctrines as evolutionary. With respect to water resources, therefore, these common-law public trust doctrines give willing states a means of (1) acknowledging climate change as a threat to public resources; (2) continually reassessing the cumulative impacts climate change is causing; (3) supporting fledgling adaptive management efforts by state agencies; and, at the extreme, (4) engaging in judicial adaptive management, in the sense of rebalancing private rights and public values in impacted aquatic resources, ecosystems, and ecosystem services.

Ben Barros

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July 23, 2009 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Davis and Brophy on Family, Property, Will and Trust in the Antebellum South

Stephen Duane Davis II (Law Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama) and our own Alfred L. Brophy (UNC - Chapel Hill) have posted The Most Esteemed Act of My Life: Family, Property, Will, and Trust in the Antebellum South on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This paper combines an empirical study of probate in Greene County, Alabama, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States in the years leading into Civil War, with a qualitative examination of property doctrine and ideology at that time. The data address three key themes in recent trusts and estates literature. First, what testators did with their extraordinary wealth; in particular, how they worked to maintain property within their families, and especially how male testators were suspicious of loss of their family's wealth through their daughters' marriages. Second, the testators used sophisticated trust mechanisms for both managing property and keeping it within their families. In the antebellum era, Americans celebrated the ways they harnessed technologies, from the steam engine to the telegraph and printing press, to create wealth and improve society. This study reveals that trusts should be added to that list of technologies that assisted in the creation and management of wealth. Finally, the data reveal the salience of enslaved human property, often managed through trusts after their owners died and also frequently divided between family members, to the maintenance of family wealth.

While some in the United States at the time, including some jurists, as well as politicians and novelists, questioned the desirability to our country of inheritance, the Greene County data show an extraordinary devotion to maintenance of family wealth. The findings in 'The Most Esteemed Act of My Life' invite further study in other places in the South, as well as in the North, to test the extent to which the existence of wealth (particularly a wealth based on human property) led to different patterns of bequest from those seen among some of our nation's wealthiest individuals at critical period of American history.

Al has some further comments on this very interesting article over at the Faculty Lounge.

Ben Barros

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July 21, 2009 in Estates In Land, Future Interests and the RAP, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homeowners Association Bans Smoking in Housing Units

From the Wisconsin Leader-Telegram:

It's not just indoor public places in Eau Claire where lighting up is prohibited. Now residents of a south side, owner-occupied housing complex will have to snuff out smoking in their homes, the most recent sign of public anti-smoking sentiment.

Members of the Fairfax Parkside Homeowners Association on Wednesday voted to outlaw smoking inside residences that are part of the 34-unit development. The ban also prohibits smoking in shared spaces, such as porches and garages, but does allow it in yards and on patios.

Of the 19 association members who voted on the issue, 15 favored the anti-smoking regulation proposed by association President Dave Hanvelt, while four argued that residents should be allowed to smoke in their homes.

"This doesn't restrict a smoker from living here," Hanvelt said of the smoking prohibition. "It just means that there are restrictions on where they can smoke." . . .

Hanvelt proposed the regulation earlier this year because homeowners in the development own twin homes, or each side of a duplex-style home. Because of their close proximity, smoke from one unit could flow into the one next door.

"If we all lived in separate units, this wouldn't have been necessary," Hanvelt said, noting homeowners association members made sure to allow outdoor smoking so as to not be too restrictive.

Ben Barros

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July 20, 2009 in Land Use | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)