Friday, October 5th, 2007
This is a description of the LATWIDNO exhibition at Just Space(s). Interesting to quote in full for Louis Gottlieb’s act and its implications:
In the case People of the State of CA vs. Louis Gottlieb (1969-73), the defendant Gottlieb asserted his right to donate the land he owned, Morningstar Ranch, to God. In doing so, Gottlieb intended to offer “Land-Access-To-Which-Is-Denied-No-One, land whereon permission to live is not required; land from which no one may be ordered to depart.”
This audio piece is a “reading” of transcripts from several of the court hearings. Rather than a theatrical re-telling of a divisive Plaintiff v. Defendant court drama, the voice score speaks of Gottleib’s aspirations and the fundamental legal paradoxes of the court grappling with humanistic, not-for-profit ideals.
The Sonoma County Court opined on the legal issues concerning dedication. Dedication in the proper sense involves giving a gift to the public. In common law, the intention to dedicate may be made in writing, orally or by virtue of the owners conduct. Generally, a “dedication” must be accepted by the public, though public use may be used to indicate acceptance.
In this fascinating, though virtually unknown appeal, Gottleib’s defense, legal counsel and Amicus Curiae raise First Amendment Freedom of Religion claims, as well as Evidentiary and Due Process ones. Specifically about: whether the court may be allowed to assume God is a material being when God’s existence remains an unsettled question of fact and, if/how the court has the right to determine whether God is or is not the legal owner of the land if God is not likely to appear before the court to make a statement. Since the court must first establish it has the legal right to interfere in any disposition before it may rule on it, the case People vs. Louis Gottleib teeters between the edge of judicial absurdity and that which is outside the scope of the law.