“Dispossessing Detroit” Videos

We hope you were able to join us for “Dispossessing Detroit”! The JLR team was thrilled to host a wonderful day of engaging sessions and conversation.

Recordings of each talk can be found below. We hope you’ll re-watch your favorite parts and let these questions continue to challenge you!

Property Dispossession is Nothing New: A Historical Overview
Panel discussion on the historical instances of land dispossession experienced by people living in the Detroit area and more broadly.

  • Bernadette AtuaheneProfessor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Beryl SatterProfessor of History, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Louise SeamsterAssistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies, University of Iowa
  • Michael WitgenDirector of the Native American Studies, Program and Associate Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan

Municipal Bankruptcy: Who Gets What?
Panel discussion comparing the experiences of Detroit, Puerto Rico, and Harrisburg, PA and the citizens who call these places home during and after bankruptcy proceedings.

  • Michelle AndersonProfessor of Law, Stanford Law School
  • Juliet MoringielloAssociate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Professor of Law, Widener University, Commonwealth Law School
  • John PottowJohn Philip Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
  • David SkeelS. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School 

Dispossession in Other Forms: A Closer Look at Detroit 

Right of Refusal 

  • Michele OberholtzerDirector of Tax Foreclosure Prevention, United Community Housing Coalition 
  • Eli SavitSenior Advisor to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Changes in the Detroit Real Estate Market

  • Joshua AkersAssistant Professor of Geography and Urban & Regional Studies, University of Michigan-Dearborn

MorningSide v. Sabree: The Tax Foreclosure Crisis

How Data Informs Policy

No video available

Ramifications of Dispossession: Activism and Lived Experiences
A panel discussion addressing the ways dispossession has affected community members and activists. 

  • Sonja Bonnet, Community Legal Worker, Detroit Justice Center
  • David Pitawanakwat, J.D. Candidate, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and University of Windsor Faculty of Law  
  • Simone Sagovac, Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition

Revitalization Today: Urban Renewal and Eminent Domain
Panel discussion on the role of revitalization efforts in cities throughout the country. 

Closing Remarks
Small group discussions with speakers and participants discussing reforms to current issues of land dispossession. Small groups will reconvene to report possible reforms.

Special thanks to Shawn Deloach for AV assistance!

Contract Selling as a Form of Property Dispossession

Beryl Satter
Professor of History, Rutgers University-Newark

A sure-fire way to lose one’s property is to pay too much for it — or to buy it on terms that are so onerous as to be predatory.  Both problems are endemic to properties purchased “on contract,” that is, on an installment plan.  I detailed the full repercussions of predatory contract sales in my 2009 book Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America.  That book described the mid-twentieth century exploitation of black Chicago homebuyers through predatory contract home purchases, a period during which banks’ refusal to make mortgage loans to African Americans left many with no alternative but to buy on contract.  Unfortunately, since the 2008 subprime meltdown, the practice has been revived, with predictably tragic results.

From the buyer’s perspective, purchasing a property on contract (also known as an “installment land contract,” “contract for deed,” or legally, “Articles of Agreement for Warranty Deed”), combines the worst of buying and renting.   In a contract sale the seller of the property provides the credit for the purchase – but on harsh terms.  Buyers must make a down payment.  They are also responsible for taxes, insurance, maintenance, and interest.  However, most installment land contracts specify that if the buyer misses even a single payment, the contract seller can repossess the property, keeping everything that the buyer invested to date.  Most also specify that all maintenance on the property is the responsibility of the contract buyer.  If the price charged for the property is excessive, or if maintenance costs are unusually high, then a missed payment and subsequent loss of the property is not uncommon.

In the mid-twentieth century, contract selling became an easy way for white speculators to exploit African Americans’ dreams of home ownership.   In cities across the country, speculators used borrowed money to buy properties from whites.  They then immediately sold those properties on contract to black buyers – routinely charging them double, and sometimes quadruple, the prices they’d paid.  Black buyers who could not keep up the exploitative payments lost their homes.  In Chicago, many of the most active contract sellers repossessed scores of properties every year – retaining the down payment and all money that their black buyers had invested to date. 

Contract selling died down in the 1970s as the now nominally illegal practice of bank redlining lessened in frequency, and as flawed federal housing programs created new ways to exploit black homebuyers.[i]  Unfortunately, it has reemerged in full force since the 2008 subprime meltdown.  Hedge Funds like Harbor Portfolio Advisors have purchased thousands of foreclosed homes from Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) for about $5000 each. They sell these properties days later at massive markups — $30,000 to $60,000 each. These properties have often been abandoned for years, and are in severely deteriorated condition, yet the contract buyer is solely responsible for the often staggering costs of restoring them to a habitable condition.  These costs mire them in debt and force them to miss payments, ensuring the loss of their properties.  Once again, those with plentiful access to credit are using contract sales to manipulate minority buyers’ dreams of mobility in order to entrap and defraud them, resulting in enrichment for the hedge funds, and property dispossession for those most in need. [ii]


[i] On the 1970s FHA-HUD scandal, see Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race For Profit:  How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). 

[ii] On the recent resurgence of predatory contract selling, see Jeremiah Battle Jr., Sarah Mancini, Margot Saunders, and Odette Williamson, “Toxic Transactions:  How Land Installment Contraacts Once Again Threaten Communities of Color,” National Consumer Law Center, July 2016, https://www.nclc.org/issues/toxic-transactions-threaten-communities-of-color.html

“Dispossessing Detroit”: Learn More and Full Schedule

Hear from the Symposium team’s Nathan Santoscoy, Michigan Law student and Detroit native, about tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit and some of the conversations we’ll be having at our Symposium on Nov. 9:

Learn more about the Detroit story that will be our lens for conversation at “Dispossessing Detroit.”

The full schedule is below. If you have not yet RSVP’ed, we encourage you to do so soon: https://dispossessingdetroitsymposium.com/rsvp-comment/

We’re excited to see you there!

Symposium: Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. @ Michigan Law School

Hutchins Hall | 701 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Continental Breakfast and Check-In
8:00 – 8:30 AM | Main Floor Lobby, outside of Hutchins 100

Property Dispossession is Nothing New: A Historical Overview
8:30 – 9:30 AM
Panel discussion on the historical instances of land dispossession experienced by people living in the Detroit area and more broadly.

  • Bernadette AtuaheneProfessor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Beryl SatterProfessor of History, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Louise SeamsterAssistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies, University of Iowa
  • Michael WitgenDirector of the Native American Studies, Program and Associate Professor of History and American Culture, University of Michigan

Municipal Bankruptcy: Who Gets What?
9:35 – 10:35 AM
Panel discussion comparing the experiences of Detroit, Puerto Rico, and Harrisburg, PA and the citizens who call these places home during and after bankruptcy proceedings.

  • Michelle AndersonProfessor of Law, Stanford Law School
  • Juliet MoringielloAssociate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Professor of Law, Widener University, Commonwealth Law School
  • John PottowJohn Philip Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
  • David SkeelS. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School 

Dispossession in Other Forms: A Closer Look at Detroit 
10:45 – 12:15 PM
Short presentations or conversations on various topics. Each conversation will be limited to 15-20 minutes with 5 minutes for audience questions and will be held three times over the course of an hour and a half. 

  • Right of Refusal
    • 10:45- 11:10 AM; 11:15- 11:40 AM; 11:45- 12:10 PM
    • Speakers: Michele OberholtzerDirector of Tax Foreclosure Prevention, United Community Housing Coalition and Eli SavitSenior Advisor to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
  • Changes in the Detroit Real Estate Market 
    • 10:45- 11:10 AM; 11:15- 11:40 AM; 11:45- 12:10 PM
    • Speaker: Joshua AkersAssistant Professor of Geography and Urban & Regional Studies, University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • MorningSide v. Sabree: The Tax Foreclosure Crisis
    • 10:45- 11:10 AM; 11:15- 11:40 AM; 11:45- 12:10 PM
    • Speaker: Michael SteinbergProfessor from Practice, University of Michigan Law School 
  • How Data Informs Policy
    • 10:45- 11:10 AM; 11:15- 11:40 AM; 11:45- 12:10 PM
    • Speaker: Jerry Paffendorf, Co-Founder & CEO, LOVELAND Technologies

Lunch
12:15 – 1:15 PM

Ramifications of Dispossession: Activism and Lived Experiences
1:15 PM – 2:15 PM
A panel discussion addressing the ways dispossession has affected community members and activists. 

  • Sonja Bonnet, Community Legal Worker, Detroit Justice Center
  • David Pitawanakwat, J.D. Candidate, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and University of Windsor Faculty of Law  
  • Simone Sagovac, Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition

Revitalization Today: Urban Renewal and Eminent Domain
2:30 – 4:00 PM
Panel discussion on the role of revitalization efforts in cities throughout the country. 

Dispossession Reform Round Tables
4:00 – 4:45 PM
Small group discussions with speakers and participants discussing reforms to current issues of land dispossession. Small groups will reconvene to report possible reforms.

Closing Remarks
4:45 – 5:00 PM
Small group discussions with speakers and participants discussing reforms to current issues of land dispossession. Small groups will reconvene to report possible reforms.

Detroit Engagement Day: Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. @ Detroit

Announcing JLR’s 2019 Symposium: “Dispossessing Detroit: How the Law Takes Property”

The Michigan Journal of Law Reform is pleased to announce that its Fall 2019 Symposium,  “Dispossessing Detroit: How the Law Takes Property” will take place on November 9, 2019. All events on November 9 will be held at the University of Michigan Law School.

RSVP to the Symposium today!

The Symposium will bring together a diverse range of academics, practitioners, and community members to speak on this important topic through the lens of the Detroit experience. We aim to have attendees learn, connect, and deepen their understanding of property dispossession and related topics. 

A few of our speakers include:

  • Michelle Anderson, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School 
  • Bernadette Atuahene, Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Amina Kirk, Senior Legal and Policy Advocate & Organizer, Detroit People’s Platform
  • Simone Sagovac, Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition
  • Eli Savit, Senior Advisor to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
  • Louise Seamster, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Iowa
  • David Skeel, S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School 

On November 10, 2019, JLR will partner with the United Community Housing Coalition to host an HPTAP (Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program) application clinic. This event will take place in Detroit. 

We look forward to sharing more with you about our program in the coming weeks – and we look forward to seeing you there!

Volume 52, Issue 1 Fall 2018

Articles

Jeffrey Abramson
Jury Selection in the Weeds: Whither the Democratic Shore? (pdf)

Kevin K. Washburn
Agency Pragmatism in Addressing Law’s Failure: The Curious Case of Federal “Deemed Approvals” of Tribal-State Gaming Compacts (pdf)

Andrew N. Vollmer
Accusers as Adjudicators in Agency Enforcement Proceedings (pdf)

Nicole Stelle Garnett
Post-Accountability Accountability (pdf)

Notes

Meredith D. McPhail
Ensuring That Punishment Does, in Fact, Fit the Crime (pdf)

Micah Telegen
You Can’t Say That!: Public Forum Doctrine and Viewpoint Discrimination in the Social Media Era (pdf)

Volume 51, Issue 4 Summer 2018

ARTICLES

Elizabeth Geltman
Environmental Health Regulation in the Trump Era: How President Trump’s Two-for-One Regulatory Plan Impacts Environmental Regulation (pdf)

Erum Sattar, Jason Robison, and Daniel McCool
Evolution of Water Institutions in the Indus River Basin: Reflections from the Law of the Colorado River (pdf)

Justin Fisch
The Case for Effective Environmental Politics: Federalist or Unitary State? Comparing the Cases of Canada, the United States of America, and the People’s Republic of China (pdf)

Announcing JLR’s Fall 2018 Symposium: “Alt-Association: The Role of Law in Combatting Extremism”

The Michigan Journal of Law Reform is pleased to announce that its Fall 2018 Symposium, “Alt-Association: The Role of Law in Combatting Extremism” will take place on November 17, 2018, with a spring-board conversation on Monday November 12, and a introductory talk on Countering Extremist Violence on Friday, November 16 with panel participant Prof. Khaled Beydoun.

All events will be held at the University of Michigan Law School
Hutchins Hall — 625 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
South Hall — 701 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(The two buildings are across the street from each other, separated by Monroe Street.) 

Pre-Symposium Conversation & Presentation

Monday, November 12, 2018
Springboard Conversation
11:55 AM – 12:55 PM | Hutchins B60A (Robert B. Aikens Lower Commons Skadden Study)

  • Stephanie Sanders, Lecturer & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Ford School of Public Policy
  • Nora Krinitsky, Michigan Mellon Fellow, LSA History of Art

Please join us for a conversation focusing on the intersections of race, creed, orientation, politics, identity, and labeling in the study and impact of “extremism.” We will also examine the assumptions, premises, problems, feelings, and conclusions generated by the Symposium panel prompts: (1) what is “extremism” and (2) how can the law combat it? Concepts and comments from this session will be provided to JLR‘s Symposium panelists and moderators for incorporation into the events on Nov. 17th.

Friday, November 16, 2018
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Grant Discussion
10:00 – 11:30 AM | Hutchins 116

Symposium speaker Professor Khaled Beydoun will give a 20 minute presentation on Countering Violent Extremism grants and their impact on immigrant and Muslim communities, followed by Q&A.

Symposium Schedule

Saturday, November 17, 2018
Registration & Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00 AM | South Hall

Introduction & Alt-Association 101
9:00 – 10:00 AM | South Hall 1025

Defining Extremism
10:15 – 11:30 AM | South Hall 1225

  • David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director, LGBTQ Rights and Special Litigation, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Yazier Henry, Lecturer in Public Policy, Ford School of Public Policy
  • Rana Elmir, Deputy Director, ACLU of Michigan
  • Javed Ali, Towsley Policymaker in Residence, Ford School of Public Policy
  • Moderator: Don Herzog, Edson R. Sunderland Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Lunch & Keynote Address
11:45 AM – 12:45 PM | South Hall 1225

  • Speaker: Sammy Rangel, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Life After Hate

The Role of Law in Responding to Extremism
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM | South Hall 1225

  • George Selim, Senior Vice President, Programs, Anti-Defamation League
  • Kimberly Buddin-Crawford, Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
  • Khaled Beydoun, Associate Professor, University of Detroit Mercy Law School
  • Alex Kirshner, Associate Professor of Political Science, Duke University
  • Phyllis Gerstenfeld, Professor of Criminal Justice, California State University, Stanislaus
  • Moderator: Len Niehoff, Professor from Practice, University of Michigan Law School

Design Jam: Combating Extremism in Our Communities
2:30 – 5:30 PM | Robert B. Aikens Lower Commons

Reception
5:30 – 6:30 PM | Robert B. Aikens Lower Commons

Post-Symposium Debrief Conversation 

Monday, November 19, 2018
Debrief Conversation
11:50 AM – 12:50 PM | Hutchins B60A (Robert B. Aikens Lower Commons Skadden Study)

 

More information on the speakers, and the location of the events, may be found on the Symposium’s website 

For more information, comments, or questions, please contact the Symposium office at JLRSymposium52@umich.edu

Running it Twice (or Thrice): Double-Header, Triple-Header, and Reverse Baseball Arbitration

(PDF) 52 U. Mich. J. L. Reform Caveat 1

Michael J. Hasday*

This Essay illustrates how the “Running It Twice” concept that makes poker games less of a gamble can also be used in another forum where large amounts of money can be at stake: arbitrations. I introduce three new forms of arbitration based on this concept: Double-Header Baseball Arbitration, Triple-Header Baseball Arbitration, and Reverse Baseball Arbitration. In this Essay, I show that that these new forms of arbitration are superior to current methods because they result in what the average or median qualified arbitrator would award—thereby making arbitration more accurate, predictable, and fair.

Continue reading

U.S. v. Warren, OH: The Case for Applying Aristotelian Modeling in Police Reform

51 U. Mich. J. L. Reform Caveat

Alicia McCaffrey

Abstract:

Police reform scholarship tends to emphasize the bureaucratic nature of problems in policing, and, in turn, proposes administrative solutions, such as providing more training or critiquing specific language in a manual. This comment argues that instead of viewing policing problems as at their core administrative, we should be willing to view them, at least in part, as moral failings warranting ethical solutions. This perspective allows research on police reform to draw from a much larger corpus of existing ethical writings. This paper applies ethical theory to police reform in the specific context of U.S. v. Warren, arguing that the success of the reforms implemented in the Warren Police Department is due in large part to the department’s use of Aristotle’s theory of “ethical modeling”: ethics is best taught by providing people with moral models whose behavior they can emulate. Other police departments can apply Aristotelian ethical theory by providing positive models from which officers can learn proper policing practices. This can be accomplished in several ways, such as expanding the use of mentoring programs, using more hypothetical role-playing in training, and publicizing stories of officers who properly de-escalated tense situations.

Introduction

Under the authority provided by 42 U.S.C. § 14141, the Department of Justice (DOJ) can file a lawsuit against a local police department for a “pattern or practice of conduct . . . that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”[1] The DOJ filed a claim against the Warren Police Department (WPD) in 2012 using this statute.[2] While the Technical Assistance Letter that the DOJ issued as a result of its investigation was largely ineffective in facilitating reform, the Settlement Agreement which the lawsuit produced led to several reforms in the following years, most of which are largely regarded as successful.[3] This paper examines U.S. v. Warren to identify why the Settlement Agreement reforms in Warren were so successful and how those factors can be used in the future to create meaningful reform in other police departments.

I argue that the predominant factor that led to success in Warren was the implementation of the Aristotelian idea that people learn ethical behavior by watching role models; the WPD implemented this idea by providing positive models of constitutional policing for officers to emulate. This modeling took several forms, such as the examples set by the leaders in the police department and the use of a mentorship program to train officers. This paper examines the Aristotelian principles in context. Part I focuses on the specific situation in Warren, Ohio, including the incidents that led to the investigation, the provisions of the Technical Assistance Letter and the Settlement Agreement, and the current state of compliance. Part II situates the practical discussion of the use of positive models within a wider ethical framework, arguing that one should view police reform at least in part as an ethical issue and thus should draw from ethical concepts when considering how to successfully implement police reform. Part III concludes by examining how the use of positive models can be used in other police reforms going forward.

Continue reading