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Property I
University of Denver School of Law
Pidot, Justin R.

Property Outline Pidot Fall 2012
I.                    Introduction
a.       Property Rights
                                                               i.      “Stick in the bundle of sticks”
1.       together constitute ownership of property
2.       most important sticks are:
a.       the right to exclude;
                                                                                                                                       i.      State v. Shack – Property owner did not have the right to exclude basic constitutional rights from migrant workers he invited on his property
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Property rights are not absolute
                                                                                                                                   iii.      Property rights are relative, conditional, relational
b.       the right to transfer; and
c.       the right to use and possess
                                                             ii.      Ownership – the ability to control something
1.       What comes with ownership?
a.       The right to control, to sell, to use, to exclude, to devise
2.       What can’t you do?
a.       Child pornography, possibly taking it out of the country, using the object to harm someone (battery is not a right you have)
b.       Right to exclude may be limited – i.e. imminent domain, easements, repossession, public use (if you use it in a commission of a crime), condemnation, criminal seizure
c.       The right to sell – some things you can’t resell such as tickets, prescription drugs
b.       Public Policy
                                                               i.      Why do we protect interests in property?
1.       Increases productivity
2.       Allows for transactions to occur
3.       Predictability
a.       To have a sense of what rights will be protected
b.       Prevents people from engaging in destructive activity (i.e. just stealing someone’s laptop and doing whatever they want)
4.       Tragedy of commons – when we collectively own things, we tend to degrade them
5.       To avoid constant conflict
6.       Revenue basis – government can collect taxes on property
7.       Liberty and freedom – having the right to own and control something
8.       People are entitled to the property that is produced by their labor
9.       Utilitarianism: Traditional Theory
a.       Under the traditional utilitarian theory, property exists to maximize the overall happiness or “utility” of all citizens.  Accordingly, property rights are allocated and defined in the manner that best promotes the general welfare of society.  This is the dominant theory underlying American property law. 
10.   Utilitarianism: Law and Economics Approach
a.       This view essentially assumes that human happiness can be measured in dollars.  Under this view, private property exists to maximize the overall wealth of society.  Critics question the assumption that social value can be appropriately measured only by examining one’s willingness to pay.
                                                             ii.      John Locke article
1.       You have certain inherent natural rights
2.       At the moment you put labor into land, it becomes yours
a.       Improving the property accounts for 99% of the right to it
                                                                                                                                       i.      Although how is this justified for employees doing the labor?
                                                                                                                                     ii.      If someone can put property to better use, do they have a higher priority?
b.       Limited by
                                                                                                                                       i.      (1) cant harm everyone by taking everything and
1.       you can’t take more than you need
                                                                                                                                     ii.       (2) only have property to what will not spoil
1.       if you don’t use the land the following year (i.e. to plant crops) that is okay. Once you acquire the interests it is yours
3.       Employed conveniently by colonists to take land from Native Americans
4.       Also promotes commerce – to avoid spoilage trade for things you can use or simply money
5.       Land that is not protected
a.       Land for aesthetic use only
                                                                                                                                       i.      i.e a nature reserve because you couldn’t labor the land
                                                           iii.      Freyfogle article
1.       Disagree with Locke.
2.       There is a common goal and everyone shares everything
3.       Property rights arise when there is scarcity.
a.       As long as there is enough, no one cares. But once something becomes scarce, people start caring
c.       Source of Property Law
                                                               i.      14th Amendment  – Due Process Clause
1.       “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”
2.       Sentell v. New Orleans & C.R., Co
a.       Holding – While the dog is property based on the state statute, but it is not recoverable property because it was not placed on the assessment roles
b.       Rule – The state has the right to dictate what is property, what is not, and what is recoverable property
                                                             ii.      14th Amendment – Equal Protection Clause
1.       no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
2.       protects classes of people
a.       strict scrutiny –
                                                                                                                                       i.      policy must necessary achieve a compelling government interest
                                                                                                                                     ii.      protects race, national origin and alienage
                                                                                                                                   iii.      usually government loses
b.       intermediate scrutiny
                                                                                                                                       i.      policy must be substantially related to an important government purpose
                                                                                                                                     ii.      protects gender and nonmarital children
c.       rational basis
                                                                                                                                       i.      law must be rationally related to legitimate government purpose
                                                                                                                                     ii.       protects everyone
                                                                                                                                   iii.      usually government wins
3.       Kirchberg v. Feenstra – The state law that granted all joint property rights to the husband is unconstitutional
4.       Popov v. Hayashi
d.       Categories of Property
                                                               i.      Real property – land
                                                             ii.      Personal property – both intangible (stock, reputation) and tangible (stuff)
                                                           iii.      Fixture – real property permanently affixed to land (furnace)
II.                 Personal Property
a.       Wild Animals
                                                               i.      Pierson v. Post
1.       Facts: Post, a hunter, found and pursued a fox over vacant land.  Pierson, fully aware that Post was chasing the fox, killed it himself.  When Post sued Pierson for the value of the fox, the court held that Pierson was the true owner, because he had been the first to actually kill or capture the f

acquire the property.
d.       Salvors entitled to award.
III.               Adverse Possession of Real Property
a.       Requirements:
                                                               i.      Actual
1.       Actually act in a manner of a reasonable owner
2.       Requires more than mere presence
a.       Need to build a fence, house, clear the land, farm, etc.
3.       Have to act like an ordinary landowner would
4.       You only get the land that you actually possess, not the entire 20 acres
                                                             ii.      Open and Notorious
1.       Possession must be sufficiently visible and obvious so as to put a reasonable owner on notice that the land is being occupied
2.       So that the owner or public knew or should have known
a.       Don’t have to have actual knowledge
b.       The fact that you don’t visit your land doesn’t matter
c.       Owners are charged with engaging in reasonable inspection of their property
                                                           iii.      Exclusive
1.       Adverse possessor does not occupy the land concurrent with the true owner or share possession in common with the public.
a.       Exception people in concert, like married couples
2.       Must have been the only person to treat the land in a manner of an owner
a.       Are allowed to invite guests over
                                                           iv.      Continuous
1.       Doesn’t mean continuous all of the time
2.       Possessor is acting in a way that an ordinary owner would continuous
a.       i.e. summer home          
3.       you can sell your interest to another selling – we allow tacking
                                                             v.      Hostile
1.       Without permission
                                                           vi.      For the Statutory Period
1.       Three approaches to the SOL
a.       New York Approach (Songbird case) – begins to run the moment the conversion occurs. Even if they don’t know or can’t know of the conversion.
b.       Discovery Rule – begins to run at the time the original owner knew or should have known of the conversion (actual knowledge or constructive knowledge)
c.       Demand of the return of the property coupled with a refusal. Begins to run at the time of the refusal to return property
                                                         vii.      State of Mind
1.       For some states only
b.       Exceptions to Adverse Possession
                                                               i.      No adverse possession against the government
                                                             ii.      The period cannot begin to run while the owner is suffering a legal disability
1.       Owner is a minor
2.       Owner is judged insane
3.       Owner is in prison
                                                           iii.      Note – the if the owner gains legal disability after the adverse possession period has begun, this is irrelevant
c.       Public Policy
                                                               i.      Why allow adverse possession?
1.       To make use of unused land
2.       Because people put their labor into the land
3.       McIntire case – the government kind of took possession of the land by adverse possession
4.       Protecting the improvement of land