Chicago-Kent College of Law

Final Examination in property

 

Instructions

1.         This examination consists of 5 pages, including this one.  Please check to make certain you have the complete examination.

2.                  Read these instructions carefully and read each question carefully.  Think each problem through            before you write and treat every appropriate issue in each question.  Be direct and concise.

3.                  Answers will be graded upon the reasons given as well as the conclusions drawn.  If more than one reason is pertinent to an answer, state every reason.

4.                  While you have been permitted to bring materials into the examination room, answering the questions appropriately will put time pressure on you.  You should not do extensive research during the examination.  Credit will be weighted according to the time allocations shown.  Manage your time accordingly.

5.         You may decide, in answering one or more questions, that a complete answer would require legal research.  If this is so, you should identify the specific issue that you would research.  If you have a mastery of the basic concepts, you will be able to frame research issues very narrowly and precisely.

6.                  It also may be that more factual information is required to answer a question.  If this is the case, you should say what factual information is required and why you need it.  A mastery of the underlying concepts will permit you to frame any factual inquiries very narrowly and link them precisely to the legal issue involved.

7.                  Organization and clarity are very important.  A shorter answer that is well organized and evidences a clear understanding of basic concepts and their interrelationships is better than a long answer with disconnected fragments of information.

8.                  Do not write outside the margins of your bluebook pages, but write clearly.  If it’s not legible, it will not get credit.

9.                  Write your examination number on your bluebook(s) or computer answer and on each page of this examination.  Do not use your name.

10.              When you have finished the examination place it inside your bluebook(s) and deposit them in the appropriate box in the examination room, or submit a computer exam per instructions.

MATERIALS WHICH MAY BE TAKEN INTO THE EXAMINATION ROOM

Any material including any outlines whether commercially prepared or not, whether accessible by computer or not, locally or via Internet connection.  No communication by e-mail, cell phone, voice-over-IP, or any form of instant- or text-messaging is permitted during the exam.

GOOD LUCK!


Final Examination in Property

Spring Semester, 2006

Professor Perritt

Question I

A group of four musicians known as Grab-bag of Marbles (GBM), owns a small shack converted into a recording studio on a small piece of real property known as Musicsliver as tenants in common. GBM is not incorporated and thus is not a distinct legal entity.

The members of GBM buy an easement from A. Coustic Listener, the owner of an adjacent and much larger parcel of land, Concertacres, entitling “the owners of Musicsliver, presently GBM, and their heirs and assigns forever to perform one concert per year in June, on the back lawn of Concertacres, from dusk to dawn, celebrating a genre of music known as ‘garbage-can-lid.’” All the members of GBM record the easement in the Recorder of Deeds office at the county seat.

Listener decides to subdivide and sell off Concertacres and move to Saskatchewan. Because the back lawn is so desirable, she defines the lots in the shape of pizza slices, with the apex (like the points in the center of the pizza) in the middle of the back lawn, running at their widest dimension to the edges of Concertacres. She sells the first lot to Sebby Bach, and includes in the deed a “covenant,” promising Bach and his heirs and assigns forever, “an annual garbage-can-lid concert, performed by the owners of Musicsliver” The deeds for all subsequent lot sales except the last contain a similar proviso. She sells the last lot to Jay Lennon. The grantees record all the deeds immediately after they receive them. Lennon then moves to Honduras and conveys his lot in fee simple to Chris Martin. That deed also is recorded.

  1. (25 minutes) Martin prefers a type of music that is “sweeter” than the garbage-can-lid genre and is astounded the first June he lives on his sliver of Concertacres when he looks out his back window at dusk and sees the members of GBM setting up their odd-looking drumsets with garbage cans and plastic paint buckets, amplifiers and huge speakers on a portion of Martin’s back yard. His dismay increases when GBM starts to play and continues through the night. By about four a.m. Martin is furious. Barefooted, with flashlight in hand, he stalks out his back door and confronts the leader of GBM who says his name is “Agustin.” Martin demands that GBM leave his property immediately. Agustin refuses. Litigation ensues, with Martin and Agustin each suing the other for trespass and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Who is likely to win and why? Be sure to discuss both the trespass and quiet-enjoyment theories.
  2. (20 minutes) GBM breaks up, some members becoming lawyers, some becoming rock stars, and others becoming homeless persons. Agustin executes a quit-claim deed “to any and all interests he may have in Musicsliver” to Joanne Bramms, a proficient violinist. Bramms has become interested in imitating bird songs on her violin. Bramms decides to perform a lengthy bird-song violin solo on the next June 14th at noon. While Martin likes the violin better than the garbage-can-lid music, he does not much care for the bird calls and anyway is at his wits end about other people playing music on his property. More litigation ensues on the same two legal theories between Martin and Bramms, each suing the other on both theories. What result this time? You should assume that the litigation described in subquestion A has not been resolved, but you need not repeat your analysis from subquestion A in your answer to this subquestion; instead you may refer to specific parts of it if you do so clearly.
  3. (20 minutes) Martin has now successfully discouraged any music performers from coming within five miles of his property to play music. One of his neighbors Sebby Bach, the first purchaser from Listener, now sues Martin, Bramms and the original members of GBM seeking to compel them to resume the garbage-can-lid concert. What legal theories would be best for Bach and what are her prospects for success?
  4. (20 minutes) All of the litigation is dropped without judgments or settlements. Bramms stops playing and moves away. The current and successor owners of Musicslivier and the parcels comprising the former Concertacres had grown accustomed to having a barbecue on the property formerly used by GBM and Bramms for their concerts. The barbecue continues for 25 years, in the course of which the barbecuers construct a large permanent barbecue pit on the Martin property. Martin now has sold his property in fee simple to a musical group known as “Wontco” which wants to build an enclosed concert arena on the property formerly owned by Martin. They build a wall, making the elaborate barbecue pit inaccessible. The barbecuers break a hole in the wall and fire up the barbecue pit, just as Wontco is beginning its first concert in the arena. The audience for the concert forgets about Wontco’s music and flocks over to eat barbecue. The barbecuers and Wontco sue each other for trespass. Who wins and why?

Question II

Matilda Boxer got an “A” in her first year property class in law school. She was particularly proud of her mastery of the Rule Against Perpetuities. After her post-graduation and post-bar-admission job search did not produce the life-style or income prospects she had hoped for, she decided to open a private school to tutor first-year law students on the Rule Against Perpetuities. She purchased, in fee simple absolute, a three-storey building half a block from a modern urban law school (“MULS”) in Baltimore, Maryland. Her initial three years of operation were phenomenally successful, gratifying all of her professional aspirations. Law students from the nearby law school flocked to her classes, in which they were allowed to drink beer, eat pizza, wear hats, listen to music, exchange instant-messages and watch video games and professional sports during class. Whether or not they learned much about the Rule Against Perpetuities, they had a ball and word spread fast. Soon there was a waiting list for Boxer’s classes, comprising law students from all over the country, some taking a leave of absence from their regular courses to attend Boxer’s program.

The deans of the law schools most affected by Boxer’s program got together and petitioned the City Council and Mayor of Baltimore to shut down Boxer’s operation.

  1. (20 minutes) The City Council passes an ordinance, amending the Baltimore zoning ordinance, to “prohibit any school from limiting its program of instruction to old, complicated common-law rules and from allowing alcohol to be served to students.” The preamble to the ordinance recites that “It is well known that too many law students are distracted by trying to master the Rule Against Perpetuities, which no one really understands. The combination of beer, pizza, and the Rule undermines the soundness of the future legal profession in Maryland.” As knowledge of the new ordinance spreads, Boxer’s enrollments plummet. Assume you are retained to represent Boxer. What arguments can you make to invalidate the ordinance. Where would you make them? Evaluate your prospects for success.
  2. (10 minutes) The dean of MULS retains you to file a common-law nuisance action against Boxer in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Assuming that Maryland applies the common law of nuisance, what arguments would you make, what evidence would you offer in support of your arguments, what remedies would you seek, and what are your prospects for success?
  3. (20 minutes) Uncertain of its prospects for success with the zoning or nuisance approaches, MULS presents a comprehensive plan to the City of Baltimore for an expansion of its facilities, including a law-student residence to be erected on the site now occupied by Boxer’s school. The plans include a “study bar” where students living in the residence would be served alcohol. The Baltimore authorities exercise their power of eminent domain to condemn Boxer’s property so that the law school’s expansion plan can be carried out, containing the same recitation in its condemnation decision as that quoted in subquestion A. If you represent Boxer, what arguments would you make to thwart the exercise of eminent domain? Evaluate your prospects for success. Do not consider valuation issues in your answer.
  4. (15 minutes) Instead of buying the facility for her operation, Boxer enters into a five-year lease with the MULS’s parent university, which owns the property. The lease contains a proviso prohibiting the lessee from using the premises for consumption of illegal substances or illegal consumption of lawful substances and terminating the lease if the proviso is violated. One year into Boxer’s operation, the dean of MULS and a dozen of her largest and most aggressive students, acting with the approval of the president of the parent university, conduct a “raid” on Boxer’s operations, entering several of her classes and removing all beer and pizza. Boxer wants to sue the university and asks you to represent her. What legal claims would you assert, with what prospects for success? Do not address criminal law.
  5. (30 minutes) Suppose Boxer has not yet started her school and neither owns nor leases any property in the area yet. An alumna of MULS who graduated next to last in her class long has borne a grudge against MULS. She is delighted at the prospect of a competing law school. She talks to Boxer about her plans, and conveys property she owns half-a-block from MULS, “in fee simple for so long as the property is used for a bona-fide law school, then to the graduate of the most recent class of MULS who ranked at the bottom of the class.” Who has what interests? Boxer now has begun operating her Rule Against Perpetuities school, with the same program and activities as described above in the general part of this question. What arguments, if any, can be made by anyone other than Boxer to get the property sooner rather than later? Consider all plausible issues and assess the prospects for success.