For my first Property exam question, I traced the events of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI. (The second question followed the prequels, Episodes I-III). Here is the A+ answer if you want to play along at home.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a decisive property battle between the forces of good and evil. This case involves Princess, Luke, Obi, and Darth. You are a law clerk for Chief Justice Yoda of the Jedi Council. He has asked you to write a memorandum of no more than 1,000 words addressing five issues implicated in Part 1. The Jedi Council applies all common law property rules, as articulated in the Restatement (First) of Property. The Council does not adhere to the Rule Against Perpetuities, or any other principle that destroys future interests. There is no statute of limitations or other jurisdictional bar that prohibits the Jedi Council from hearing these disputes.
It is a period of civil war. Darth has constructed the ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station the size of a moon. The Death Star, which has a laser powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, poses a risk to the peace and stability of the galaxy. Princess sneaks aboard the Death Star, and secretly takes a picture of the station’s blueprints, which were posted on a bulletin board. The blueprints reveal that there is a vulnerability on the station: if a missile is fired directly into an exhaust port, the entire Death Star will explode. Princess narrowly escapes from the Death Star, and gives the copy of the blueprints to her robot, known as R2. R2 was sent to the desert planet Tatooine to protect the blueprints.
After a crash landing, Luke finds R2 buried in the sands of Dryacre, and says “Finder’s keepers. He’s mine!” Luke works on a moisture farm on Blackacare. With R2’s sophisticated navigational system, Luke spends the next three weeks searching for water, and finally locates a stream of fresh water on Wetacre. Luke starts to build a pipeline to transport the water from Wetacre back to Blackacre. Obi, who owns the adjacent Dryacare, notices that Luke is building the pipeline. Obi diverts the stream, and directs all of the water to Dryacre. Luke demands that Obi remove the diversion of the water, claiming that he spent three weeks searching for it, and was already in the process of building the pipeline to transport the water. Obi refuses, and claims that he was the first to actually divert the water away from Wetacare. Obi added that Luke was only able to find the water with R2’s help, and R2 belonged to Obi.
However, soon Luke and Obi became friends. One day, Obi turns to Luke and hands him a lightsaber–a mystical sword with a laser for a blade. Luke asks if this is Obi’s lightsaber. Obi replies, “No, it belonged to your father.” Obi explains that Luke’s father was mortally wounded by Darth three decades ago. With his last breath, Luke’s father handed Obi the lightsaber, and said, “On my death, give this lightsaber to my son.” Without saying anything, Obi took the lightsaber, and leaves him for dead. But Luke’s father would survive.
Once Luke held the lightsaber in his hand, he sensed that Princess had been kidnapped by Darth, and was being held hostage on the Death Star. Luke travels to the Death Star, and tries to rescue Princess. However, Darth accuses Luke of trespassing, and blocks his entry to Princess’s room.
The two then engage in a dramatic lightsaber battle. Just as Darth is about to kill Luke, he pauses, and says, “Obi never told you what happened to your father.” Luke replied, “He told me you killed him.” Darth shot back, “No, I am your father.” Obi had lied to Luke. Astonished, Luke asks, “So this is your lightsaber?” Darth replies, “Yes. I want you to have it during my life, and after my life it should go to your sister.” Luke didn’t even know he had a sister.
At that moment, Princess emerges, and runs to Luke. The two share an awkward embrace, and then look at each other closely. They realize that they look exactly alike. Then it hits them: they are fraternal twins, and Darth was their father. The siblings miraculously escape the Death Star.
As they escape, Darth becomes furious and activates the Death Star’s laser. He seeks to destroy the planet of Tatooine. As the laser is powering up, Luke flies a spaceship alongside the Death Star, and fires a missile into the vulnerable exhaust port. It was a direct hit! The moon-sized space station explodes into hundreds of pieces. One of the pieces is so large that it enters the gravitational pull of Tatooine, and orbits the planet like a moon. Luke lands on the new celestial body, and plants a flag. “I claim this moon in the name of Luke.” He called it the Luke Star. Darth lands his spaceship, and tells Luke, “That’s no moon. That is the Death Star. And it’s still mine.” In a final dramatic battle, Luke kills his father with his lightsaber. Luke says, “Now it’s mine.”
With the star wars completed, the legal wars begin. Please write a memorandum of no more than 1,000 words for Chief Justice Yoda addressing the following five issues affecting Princess, Luke, Obi, and the executor of Darth’s estate:
1. Luke files suit against Obi, seeking an injunction to divert the water away from Dryacre and towards Blackacre. Obi files a countersuit, and claims that he has the stronger claim to the water. Please discuss the strongest arguments in favor of each claim.
2. The executor of Darth’s estate files suit against Princess, charging that her reproduction of the Death Star’s blueprints was a common-law misappropriation of property. (There are no statutory claims raised). Please discuss the merits of this claim, and Princess’s strongest defenses.
3. Luke files suit to quiet title of Luke Star, claiming that he had the strongest claim to the new moon. The executor filed a countersuit, claiming that there is no new moon, and Darth’s estate retained the strongest claim to what is still Death Star. Please address the strongest arguments in favor of each claim.
4. Luke files suit to quiet title on the lightsaber, claiming that he has the strongest claim to the weapon. Princess intervenes, and asserts that after Darth’s death, she now has the strongest claim to the weapon. Obi intervenes, and asserts that he has the strongest claim because Darth had already relinquished his possession of the lightsaber three decades earlier. How should the court resolve these three competing claims?
5. The executor of Darth’s estate brings a trespass claim against Luke for trespassing onto the Death Star. Luke counters that he entered Death Star in order to rescue the Princess, who was being held hostage. Please address how the Court should resolve this claim, and pay special attention to the policy arguments for and against the “right to exclude.”
To Be Continued in Part II…