147 episodes

The Law School of America podcast is designed for listeners who what to expand and enhance their understanding of the American legal system. It provides you with legal principles in small digestible bites to make learning easy. If you're willing to put in the time, The Law School of America podcasts can take you from novice to knowledgeable in a reasonable amount of time.
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The Law School of America podcast is designed for listeners who what to expand and enhance their understanding of the American legal system. It provides you with legal principles in small digestible bites to make learning easy. If you're willing to put in the time, The Law School of America podcasts can take you from novice to knowledgeable in a reasonable amount of time.
Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/law-school/support

    Property law: Estates in land - Concurrent estate

    Property law: Estates in land - Concurrent estate

    In property law, a concurrent estate or co-tenancy is any of various ways in which property is owned by more than one person at a time. If more than one person owns the same property, they are commonly referred to as co-owners. Legal terminology for co-owners of real estate is either co-tenants or joint tenants, with the latter phrase signifying a right of survivorship. Most common law jurisdictions recognize tenancies in common and joint tenancies.

    Many jurisdictions also recognize tenancies by the entirety, which is effectively a joint tenancy between married persons. Many jurisdictions refer to a joint tenancy as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but they are the same, as every joint tenancy includes a right of survivorship. In contrast, a tenancy in common does not include a right of survivorship.

    The type of co-ownership does not affect the right of co-owners to sell their fractional interest in the property to others during their lifetimes, but it does affect their power to will the property upon death to their devisees in the case of joint tenants. However, any joint tenant can change this by severing the joint tenancy. This occurs whenever a joint tenant transfers his or her fractional interest in the property.

    Laws can vary from place to place, and the following general discussion will not be applicable in its entirety to all jurisdictions.


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    • 17 min
    Constitutional law: Federalism in the United States

    Constitutional law: Federalism in the United States

    Federalism in the United States is the constitutional division of power between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States. Since the founding of the country, and particularly with the end of the American Civil War, power shifted away from the states and toward the national government. The progression of federalism includes dual, state-centered, and new federalism.


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    • 20 min
    Tort law: Economic torts - Vicarious liability + Last clear chance + Neutral reportage + + eggshell rule

    Tort law: Economic torts - Vicarious liability + Last clear chance + Neutral reportage + + eggshell rule

    Vicarious liability is a form of a strict, secondary liability that arises under the common law doctrine of agency, respondeat superior, the responsibility of the superior for the acts of their subordinate or, in a broader sense, the responsibility of any third party that had the "right, ability or duty to control" the activities of a violator. It can be distinguished from contributory liability, another form of secondary liability, which is rooted in the tort theory of enterprise liability because, unlike contributory infringement, knowledge is not an element of vicarious liability. The law has developed the view that some relationships by their nature require the person who engages others to accept responsibility for the wrongdoing of those others. The most important such relationship for practical purposes is that of employer and employee.

    The last clear chance doctrine of tort law, is applicable to negligence cases in jurisdictions that apply rules of contributory negligence in lieu of comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, a negligent plaintiff can nonetheless recover if he is able to show that the defendant had the last opportunity to avoid the accident. Though the stated rationale has differed depending on the jurisdiction adopting the doctrine, the underlying idea is to mitigate the harshness of the contributory negligence rule. Conversely, a defendant can also use this doctrine as a defense. If the plaintiff has the last clear chance to avoid the accident, the defendant will not be liable.

    Neutral reportage is a common law defense against libel and defamation lawsuits usually involving the media republishing unproven accusations about public figures. It is a limited exception to the common law rule that one who repeats a defamatory statement is just as guilty as the first person who published it.

    Defendants using the defense can claim that they are not implying the offending statement is true but simply reporting, in a neutral manner, that the potentially libelous statements were made, even if they doubt the accuracy of the statement. For the defense to succeed, it is almost always required for the reporting to be unbiased and in the public interest.

    The eggshell rule (also thin skull rule or talem qualem rule) is a well-established legal doctrine in common law, used in some tort law systems, with a similar doctrine applicable to criminal law. The rule states that, in a tort case, the unexpected frailty of the injured person is not a valid defense to the seriousness of any injury caused to them.


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    • 23 min
    Criminal Law: Crimes against property - Arson + Blackmail + Bribery

    Criminal Law: Crimes against property - Arson + Blackmail + Bribery

    Arson is a crime of willfully and maliciously setting fire to or charring property. Though the act typically involves buildings, the term arson can also refer to the intentional burning of other things, such as motor vehicles, watercraft, or forests. The crime is typically classified as a felony, with instances involving a greater degree of risk to human life or property carrying a stricter penalty. A common motive for arson is to commit insurance fraud. In such cases, a person destroys their own property by burning it and then lies about the cause in order to collect against their insurance policy.

    A person who commits arson is called an arsonist. Arsonists normally use an accelerant (such as gasoline or kerosene) to ignite, propel and directionalize fires, and the detection and identification of ignitable liquid residues (ILRs) is an important part of fire investigations. Pyromania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the pathological setting of fires. Most acts of arson are not committed by pyromaniacs.

    Blackmail is an act of coercion using the threat of revealing or publicizing either substantially true or false information about a person or people unless certain demands are met. It is often damaging information and may be revealed to family members or associates rather than to the general public. It may involve using threats of physical, mental or emotional harm, or of criminal prosecution, against the victim or someone close to the victim. It is normally carried out for personal gain, most commonly of position, money, or property.

    Blackmail may also be considered a form of extortion. Although the two are generally synonymous, extortion is the taking of personal property by threat of future harm. Blackmail is the use of threat to prevent another from engaging in a lawful occupation and writing libelous letters or letters that provoke a breach of the peace, as well as use of intimidation for purposes of collecting an unpaid debt.

    In many jurisdictions, blackmail is a statutory offense, often criminal, carrying punitive sanctions for convicted perpetrators. Blackmail is the name of a statutory offense in the United States, England and Wales, and Australia, and has been used as a convenient way of referring to certain other offenses, but was not a term used in English law until 1968.

    Bribery is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official, or other person, in charge of a public or legal duty. With regard to governmental operations, essentially, bribery is "Corrupt solicitation, acceptance, or transfer of value in exchange for official action." Gifts of money or other items of value which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery. Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. However, giving a discount specifically to that employee to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility's rate increase applications would be considered bribery.




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    • 20 min
    Contract law: Excuses for non-performance - Unconscionability

    Contract law: Excuses for non-performance - Unconscionability

    Unconscionability (sometimes known as unconscionable dealing/conduct in Australia) is a doctrine in contract law that describes terms that are so extremely unjust, or overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of the party who has the superior bargaining power, that they are contrary to good conscience. Typically, an unconscionable contract is held to be unenforceable because no reasonable or informed person would otherwise agree to it. The perpetrator of the conduct is not allowed to benefit, because the consideration offered is lacking, or is so obviously inadequate, that to enforce the contract would be unfair to the party seeking to escape the contract.

    Unconscionability is determined by examining the circumstances of the parties when the contract was made, such as their bargaining power, age, and mental capacity. Other issues might include lack of choice, superior knowledge, and other obligations or circumstances surrounding the bargaining process. Unconscionable conduct is also found in acts of fraud and deceit, where the deliberate misrepresentation of fact deprives someone of a valuable possession. When a party takes unconscionable advantage of another, the action may be treated as criminal fraud or the civil action of deceit.

    For the defense of unconscionability to apply, the contract has to have been unconscionable at the time it was made; later circumstances that make the contract extremely one-sided are irrelevant. There are generally no standardized criteria for determining unconscionability; it is a subjective judgment by the judge, not a jury, and is applied only when it would be an affront to the integrity of the judicial system to enforce such a contract. Upon finding unconscionability a court has a great deal of flexibility on how it remedies the situation. It may refuse to enforce the contract against the party unfairly treated on the theory that they were misled, lacked information, or signed under duress or misunderstanding; it may refuse to enforce the offending clause, or take other measures it deems necessary to have a fair outcome. Damages are usually not awarded.


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    • 18 min
    Property law: Estates in land - Future interest

    Property law: Estates in land - Future interest

    In property law and real estate, a future interest is a legal right to property ownership that does not include the right to present possession or enjoyment of the property. Future interests are created on the formation of a defeasible estate; that is, an estate with a condition or event triggering transfer of possessory ownership. A common example is the landlord-tenant relationship. The landlord may own a house, but has no general right to enter it while it is being rented. The conditions triggering the transfer of possession, first to the tenant then back to the landlord, are usually detailed in a lease.

    As a slightly more complicated example, suppose O is the owner of Blackacre. Consider what happens when O transfers the property, "to A for life, then to B". Person A acquires possession of Blackacre. Person B does not receive any right to possess Blackacre immediately; however, once person A dies, possession will fall to person B (or his estate, if he died before person A). Person B has a future interest in the property. In this example, the event triggering the transfer is person A's death.

    Because they convey ownership rights, future interests can usually be sold, gifted, willed, or otherwise disposed of by the beneficiary (but see Vesting below). Because the rights vest in the future, any such disposition will occur before the beneficiary actually takes possession of the property.

    There are five kinds of future interests recognized at common law: three in the transferor and two in the transferee.


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    • 15 min

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