Class Notes from Law School: Get Pumped
- Feb 17, 2010
- Law School, Law School Life
Allow me to start with a slightly belated congrats for everyone who took that February test. I got a little bogged down last week in actual law school work, and MSS graciously allowed me a week off. (In other words, I’ve been filtering all their emails directly into my spam box for the past 14 days.) [Editor’s note: She really has. And it’s not even finals.]
Regardless, I’m back now, and I recognize that many of are you caught in a flurry of admitted student letters, feverish nail biting and mailbox stakeouts. So, as you start to make that decision (to go or not to go), I bring you the closest thing I can to law school reality TV. I’d upload actual footage, but I’ve taken enough questionable videos over the years that I would sooner burn the memory cards than risk an internet leak accident. So, instead, you get my class notes. Don’t get too excited.
Disclaimer: One of my friends recently had to miss our property class to go on an interview, so I agreed to take notes for her. Since I am not generally a very competent note-taker (my mind tends to wander like a baby gazelle looking for its parents), I decided to go minute by minute, to be sure she didn’t miss out on any pearls of wisdom. And what pearls they were! Although every professor has a different style, here is an idea of what you may be doing in a year. Do not, I repeat, do not get too excited.
2.9- Property Notes.
9:19– Class starts. Professor embarks on stories about snow. They are intermixed with stories of various political figures.
9:20– My TA sends an email stating that due to the pending “snowpocalypse” there will be no section tomorrow. I consider that my TA is pretty cute, and daydream about making out with him for a second.
9:21– Professor’s snow story now involves thugs threatening him with sticks. I have begun to pay attention again. He doesn’t end up getting assaulted, so my attention wanes.
9:23– The professor is literally telling a story about walking over a mile in the snow to get to school. I really want him to adopt me as a grandchild.
9:24– We have started talking about cases. Except, not the cases in our cases book or any case we’ve read. Instead, he has a printout of a “better” case that has to do with Belgians and Massachusetts. Oh wait, the reason this case isn’t in our case book is because it’s on appeal and the law is still unsettled. So, basic takeaway, there is no law for us to learn.
9:27– OH MY GOD HE’S TALKING ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBE FROM TWILIGHT. Taylor Lautner is so hot, and so jailbait*. There was an OpEd in the New York Times (I found it for you- OMG VAMPIRES) apparently about the legality of appropriating Native American names for commercial purposes. The professor managed to discuss the whole article without actually mentioning Twilight. I wonder if he knows what the kids like?
9:32– We have moved onto the cases. He has signaled that we will begin talking about Illinois Central RR Co v Illinois.
9:34– Extended tangent about oil, Japan and either Korea or China. The tangent ends with, “But that’s not the issue here”.
9:35– “So what then is the issue here?”
The Supreme Court says that Illinois cannot sell the land, even though they own it.
We are talking about oil again. As far as I know, this case still has nothing to do with oil.
Quote- “The great basketball team known as the Nets.”
9:38– Why did the supreme court say Illinois cannot sell the land?
Student answers: Because the court says all the residents own it, so it cannot be sold as private property.
9:42– Fuck, spent the last three minutes thinking about you-know-who naked. My bad. I refocus when Professor informs us that he is going to share with us some great trivia he found on Wikipedia. Trivia turns out to be about some really lame dude who did some stuff with wires. Oh wait, ok so the dude he’s talking about is Justice Fields. Still lame excuse for trivia.
9:44– “We’ve had enough stories for today.”
9:44– “Lake Michigan Federation v United States Army Corps of Engineers”
Facts: Loyola University wanted to fill in some of Lake Michigan to make more campus.
Issue: Can this land be transferred from the state to the college?
Holding: “The lakebed of Lake Michigan is held in trust for and belongs to the citizenry of the state. The conveyance of lakebed property to a private party- no matter how reputable and highly motivated that private party may be- violates that public trust doctrine.”
9:50– The story of Battery Park City. When they built the WTC towers they had all this extra dirt, so they dumped it in the Hudson and expanded Manhattan (with permission).
Why is this different? Student makes policy argument: BPC was made for the benefit of all, Loyola is a private university.
Would it be ok if Loyola was a public entity?
9:55– Student tells story about Chicago Bears where public trust doctrine did not come into play because the land where Bears were building stadium was under a lease.
9:57– There are pictures being drawn on the board. I wonder if anyone would notice if I left and returned with an extra large coffee…
10:00– Ultimate question, “How far should the public trust doctrine go?”
10:01– Thorton v Hay
Facts: In Oregon. Hay owned land that included some of the sandy beach area.
Immediately we’ve segued into an anecdote about NYC.
Back to facts: The boundary on the Pacific Coast between what people can privately own is the “Mean High Tide”. People can privately own up to the average high tide line over 365 days. After that line, the beach is publicly owned.
Atlantic states mostly do not use this rule. Most Atlantic coast states use mean low tide to decide private property boundaries.
The difference is that, for most Atlantic States, public access requires you to be in the water. Pacific states, on the other hand, generally allow the public to access dry sand near the water.
10:08– Imma take another daydream break.
10:10– Back to facts: Hay wants to build a fence that will stay entirely on dry sand. Hay owns a motel, and wants privacy for his customers. It is not disputed that he owns the land where he wants to build the fence.
Issue: Can he do this?
Court says no. Argument 1 appeals to custom. Argument 2 appeals to easement ownership. If someone spends X amount of time using a piece of land without ever being stopped, there are going to be problems if the owner suddenly wants to stop the behavior.
10:13– Weather Channel.com says – “SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 13 INCHES ARE EXPECTED. AT THIS TIME THE HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE NEW YORK CITY METROPOLITAN AREA AND LONG ISLAND.”
10:15– Easement thought from case: The court is hesitant to extend the doctrine to anyone. Before, the right to use land through easement could only be obtained by the actual people using the land. It could not be extended to anyone, just because some people were using it. I’m pretty sure they do it anyway.
Professor makes some “silly and extreme” (his quote) arguments about where this might end:
Dragging a trailer.
People who want to use your private phone.
10:18– Professor talks some more smack on the casebook.
10:19– “It is no surprise that Oregon was a little cuddlier, leftier kind of state.”
10:26– Grand finale. I literally have no idea what is being discussed. It has to do with Romans, fowling, swimming, medical lore of yesteryear, Puritans, anxiety, indigestion, evolving social norms, pretentious New England towns and the spirit of Oregon.
Are you psyched for law school now?
*Two days after I wrote this, Taylor Lautner ceased to be jailbait. Three cheers for the aging process.
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