When Uncle Sam got lots of land from some of the original 13 colonies, as well as when he acquired more thru the Louisiana and Gadsden Purchases, and from Mexico and Russia, he eventually sold large parts of those lands. The name of the deed used to transfer title to the first purchaser was “land patent.” Once this land was transferred to the first owner and was no longer owned by the feds, it was subject to the law of the State wherein it was located. The States are constitutionally prevented from “impairing the obligation of contracts”. See Art. 1, section 10, cl. 1. Consequently, the States cannot enact some law impairing the contractual rights possessed by parties having an interest in real property, such as a mortgagee.

Back in the early ‘80s, Carol Landi started an argument about land patents. She used old, no longer effective federal laws to build an argument that a party facing foreclosure could get a copy of the original land patent for his land, “update” it by transferring the patent to himself, and by this simple process of “bringing the land patent up into your own name,” defeat all mortgages, including those given by the property owner. This is a wild, baseless legal argument.

Landi used this argument against her own landlord by “patenting” the landlord’s property in her own name and then suing them for ejectment; she lost. She also tried to patent large tracts of land in her attempt to become the largest landowner in California, but she was eventually prosecuted, convicted for slandering title and spent 9 years in jail. Her whole argument conflicts with the whole body of all state law regarding title to real property.

At the behest of some farmer clients facing foreclosure, I went with them to San Fran in 1984 to meet with Landi. I was impressed with the fact that she was a wild, loose cannon. Thereafter, she promoted her land patent argument all over the country. Those who have tried her process got nowhere, and the following is what I have posted on my website regarding her land patent argument:

  VII. Land Patents:

    Back in 1983 and 1984, Carol Landi popularized an argument that the land patent was the highest and best form of title and that by updating the patent in your own name, you could defeat any mortgages. This contention violated many principles of real property law and when Carol started trying to get patents for most of the land in California brought up into her own name, she went to jail. Others who have raised this crazy argument lost the issue.

1. Landi v. Phelps, 740 F.2d 710 (9th Cir. 1984)
2. Sui v. Landi, 209 Cal.Rptr. 449 (Cal.App. 1 Dist. 1985)
3. Hilgeford v. People's Bank, 607 F.Supp. 536 (N.D.Ind. 1985), affirmed,  776 F.2d 176 (7th Cir.1985).
4. Nixon v. Individual Head of St. Joseph Mtg. Co., 612 F.Supp. 253 (N.D. Ind. 1985)
5. Nixon v. Phillipoff, 615 F.Supp. 890 (N.D. Ind. 1985)
6. Wisconsin v. Glick, 782 F.2d 670 (7th Cir. 1986)
7. Britt v. Federal Land Bank Ass'n. of St. Louis, 505 N.E.2d 387 (Ill. App. 1987)
8. Charles F. Curry Co. v. Goodman, 737 P.2d 963 (Okl.App. 1987)
9. Federal Land Bank of Spokane v. Redwine, 755 P.2d 822 (Wash.App. 1988).