Every now and then I look at a new appellate decision and experience the shock of reading something that I would have guessed was certain to never come up before seeing it in print. So I was helping my daughter study for a history test the other day. Her fifth grade class was in a chapter about American industrialization and the expansion of the United States to the Pacific (manifest destiny and all that). The war with Mexico received a mention in her study guide, along with a treaty entered into with Mexico at the end of the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Trick question: what are the chances that an appellate decision today would rest, in part, on the need to examine the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo? You should say "zero," but, since I asked, you know that's not the answer. The correct answer is, ding ding ding, 100%.
In Friends of Martin's Beach v. Martin's Beach 1 LLC (April 27, 2016) the Court of Appeal (First Appellate District, Division Two) considered issues arising in a dispute between private land owners and the public over an area of inland dry sand at a popular beach. Here is the paragraph that resulted in my double-take:
The case presents a number of intriguing issues, among them the meaning of Article X, section 4 of the California Constitution and its application, if any, to lands for which title is derived from a provisional Mexican land grant confirmed by a federal patent issued in the 19th century. These issues require consideration of a federal statute known as the Act of 1851 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which that Act implemented. The case also concerns the common law theory of dedication of land to public use and what facts suffice to establish the elements of such a claim. Creating yet additional interest, the State of California and its agencies contend in an amicus brief that they were indispensable parties to this action because it involves California tidelands and that the judgment rendered without them is void.
Slip op., at 1-2. As an aside, if these issues also sound "intriguing" to you, you are officially a law nerd.
Today's lesson: Never say never.