Legally Stolen Lands: Impacts and Remedies for Historically Disadvantaged People

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 87 minutes
Recorded Date: February 14, 2020
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        • Heirs' Property Ownership and the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act
                - Intestacy by Race and Education Level
                - Property Owners Impacted
                - Provisions Remedying Partition Action Abuses
                - Status Report on UPHPA
        • Heirs' Property in Texas
                - Uprooted Project: Gentrification and Rising Property Taxes
                - Interventions
        • Heirs' Property in Georgia
        • State Law Barriers to Heirs' Property Owners
        • Historic Partition Law Reform

Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Recorded: February 14, 2020


The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, adopted in 15 states and the US Virgin Islands and currently introduced in at least 6 states and the District of Columbia, is a very important, even historic remedy, though not a cure-all, for the inherent instability of ownership where title to land is held in common over generations, particularly among socially and economically disadvantaged property owners who are disproportionately African American and other people of color. Partition actions in rural and urban/ gentrifying areas adversely impact owners who lack clear title. Join us in person or online for a discussion of the issues.

This program was recorded on February 14th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Skipper G. Stipemaas

Executive Director
Georgia Heirs Property Law Center

Skipper G. StipeMaas is the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center’s founding Executive Director. Skipper is a Community Economic Development Attorney with over 25 years of professional specialization in heirs property and nonprofit, land-based development projects involving complex real estate acquisitions, conservation easements, affordable housing development, estate planning, and leasehold agreements. As a native of Dixie, GA (Brooks County), located in South Georgia, and long-term resident of Athens, Georgia, Ms. StipeMaas is familiar with the capacity of both rural and urban communities to sustainably revitalize while fostering generational wealth building.

Heather K. Way

Clinical Professor
University of Texas School of Law

Heather K. Way directs the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which delivers transactional legal assistance to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups in Texas. Way has more than 20 years of experience working on the creation of equitable and inclusive communities, with a focus on affordable housing, gentrification and displacement, problem properties (including code enforcement), land title issues, informal housing, seller financing, and housing preservation. In addition, Way is the founder and steering committee member of the UT Opportunity Forum, an interdisciplinary collaborative of faculty at the University of Texas at Austin working on fostering equitable communities.

Way has worked in the fields of community development and affordable housing law since 1997, starting with a Skadden Fellowship at Legal Aid of Central Texas. While at Legal Aid, she founded Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources, a statewide program that has delivered millions of dollars in pro bono legal assistance to CDCs and other nonprofit organizations. After graduating from UT Law, Way clerked for the Honorable William Wayne Justice of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

She is the co-host of the Uprooted Website, which features resources for addressing displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods, and the co-author of several recent reports: Texas Anti-Displacement Toolkit, Uprooted: Residential Displacement in Gentrifying Neighborhoods and What Can Be Done About It, and Out of Order: Housing's Dangerous Apartment Epidemic. Additional recent writings include Real Property for the Real World, a book of hands-on case studies for property law courses based on real cases and Protecting Homebuyers in Low-Income Communities: Evaluating the Success of Texas Legislative Reforms in the Texas Informal Homeownership Market, which examines contract for deed regulations.

Way is a recipient of the Faculty Excellence in Public Interest Award from Texas Law Fellowships and the Outstanding "Houser" Award from the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, and was recognized as an Austin Affordable Housing Hero by Interfaith Action of Central Texas. Way was also recognized as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the State Bar of Texas Young Lawyers Association, and one of the Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the Texas Lawyer.

Thomas W. Mitchell

Professor of Law and Co-Director, Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law
Texas A&M University School of Law

Thomas W. Mitchell, J.D., LL.M., professor of law and co-director of the Program in Real Estate and Community Development Law, has agreed to serve as interim dean of the Texas A&M University School of Law. He will assume this position on August 1, 2017. He follows Andrew P. Morriss, J.D., Ph.D., who has agreed to serve as the founding dean of the School of Innovation and vice president for entrepreneurship and economic development at Texas A&M University.

Professor Mitchell joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 2016. He earned a B.A. in English from Amherst College, a J.D. from Howard University School of Law, and an LL.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he also served as a William H. Hastie Fellow. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Law School where he held the Frederick W. and Vi Miller Chair in Law and also served on the faculty of the DePaul University College of Law in addition to serving as a visiting research fellow at the American Bar Foundation and at the University of Chicago.

Professor Mitchell’s primary research interests focus on real property issues that impact poor and disadvantaged communities, many of which are rural. More broadly, he researches issues of economic inequality, specifically focusing on how the ability or inability of individuals or communities to build and retain assets can impact inequality.

Erica Levine Powers

Erica Levine Powers, Esq.

EricaLevine Powers is a land use and environmental lawyer with a strong interest in transitional and alternative energy transactions, infrastructure, policy and regulation. She is trained in alternative dispute resolution and has recently served as the head zoning and land use lawyer for the City of Atlanta Law Department.

A cum laude graduate of Harvard College in Modern European History and Literature, she holds J.D. and LL.M. (Taxation) degrees from Boston University School of Law. Initially counsel to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks and then a corporate transactional lawyer at Gaston Snow & Ely Bartlett, Boston, she served as counsel to the Deputy Mayor/ Collector Treasurer of the City of Boston and as General Counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Food & Agriculture. She is admitted in Massachusetts, Maryland and New York, and resides in Albany, New York. As a lecturer at the University at Albany (SUNY), from 2009 through 2013 she taught graduate Master of Regional Planning courses in law and environmental planning and developed an interdisciplinary environmental planning seminar on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.

She participates in panels and webinars on natural gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing for the ABA, the APA, IMLA, the Institute for Energy Law (CAILAW) and the Land Use Institute. She is the lead editor and a contributing author of Beyond the Fracking Wars (ABA, 2013), noted for its fairness and depth. She is Chair-Elect of the ABA Section of State & Local Government Law, where she has been Editor of the quarterly State & Local Law News, served on the Publications Oversight Board, and been CLE Director. She also writes on land use and transportation, and is working on a book on heirs property.

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