Here is the distribution. On the whole, the papers were quite strong, and the class had a solid grasp on the material. These midterms were better than the students from my previous property class.
For the most part, everyone understood the issues. What separated the As from the Cs was how your paper discussed caselaw. Far too many of you did not mention the relevant cases. Some of you referred to cases, but didn’t name them (it is Pierson v. Post, not the “fox case”). Here are some high-level thoughts on the five questions:
- The first question tested you on–shocker–hunting an animal. The fact patter was fairly complicated, as the boar ran from one part of the island to another, then as it was about to be captured, fell into a river, froze solid, and floated downstream. The best answers cited both cases (Pierson, Ghen, and Keeble), the natural/common law doctrines (ratione soli, rule of capture, labor theory), philosophers (Locke, Grotius, Pufendorf), and policy (efficiency/fairness).
- The second question concerned the acquisition-by-find doctrine. Note that discovery and conquest doctrine are not relevant. Rather, you should be citing cases like Armory, Hannah v. Peel, and others.
- The third question concerned a future interest in a flashlight. The present interest was a life estate, and the future interest was a vested remainder in fee simple. Many of you noted that because it was not written down, it would be void under the statute of frauds. This case was similar to Gruen v. Gruen.
- The fourth question concerned a gift in anticipation of death. Many of you discussed gifts causa mortis which was correct. The present interest was a life estate. Don’t get confused by the “but if” language–because the estate terminates at Tom’s death, this is not a defeasible estate. The future interest is a vested remainder in fee simple.
- The fifth question presented a riparian issue. Good answers discussed the Western rule and the common law rule. The better answered incorporated the Coase Theorem, and how the parties could bargain to reach an optimal result.