Monday, January 15, 2007

More on Caselaw
(aka So Much for Professor Kingsfield)

Re my rhapsody on caselaw--my friend Noel weighs in on Casner & Leach :
A. James Casner was my Property I professor my first year of law school. It was one of the highlights of my law school experience. His erudition and precision were always impressive, sometimes breathtaking, and I have long thought of myself as reasonably precise and attentive to detail. Bart Leach had a very different reputation – relatively rough and tumble although none the less concerned with the life lessons to be learned from property law. A very impressive duo among a very impressive faculty.
I went to law school in the provinces & so far as I know, never laid eyes on either Casner or Leach. They both had street reps that conform to Noel's memory. Leach in particular was famous as something of an original--he wrote doggerel verse which he would perform while accompanying himself on the concertina (accordian?).

In Kentucky where I went to school, we had a case called Bedinger v. Greybill's Administrator. Decendent left money "to H for life, remainder to his children." Apparently H had no children, but he did have a W--so he adopted the W. Unencumbered by current research, my memory is that the Kentucky court sided with W. I think it is the first time I ever heard the phrase "laughing heir"--apparently the other claimants were distant cousins who had essentially nothing to do with the decedent.

Anyway, I heard that Leach had written a song about it, so I wrote him a letter asking for a copy. The next mail brings a full set of lyrics, to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky:"

Oh father, dear father, let go of my blouse,
Since I am your daughter, I can't be your spouse.

...and so forth, for eight or ten verses (they are probably in a Tupperware bin around here somewhere). Apparently it didn't trouble him at all to share this stuff with a total stranger, and with a Kentucky postmark at that.

Fn.: My friend John tells me that "aggravated incest" is a crime in Kansas. What is that about. No, don't tell me...

1 comment:

Susan French said...

Adopting your spouse to make her/him your child for inheritance purposes is no longer possible in Kentucky. Bedinger v. Graybill's Executors was overruled in Minary v. Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Co., 419 S.W.2d 340 (1967) on the ground that the practice is "an act of subterfuge which in effect thwarts the intent of the ancestor whose property is being distributed and cheats the rightful heirs."
Often the problem arises because testators don't include the life beneficiary's spouse among the remaindermen or permissible appointees if the beneficiary has no issue.