Texas Lawyers Blog


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Eminent Domain, Expropiation, Condemnation, and Public Takings

Eminent domain is the inherent power of the state to seize a citizen's private property without the owner's consent. The property can be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public use. The most common public uses of property taken by eminent domain are public utilities, highways, and railroads.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has largely given the "public use" requirement an expansive interpretation and has allowed takings of private property for conveyance to other private parties for "economic redevelopment."

What is Just Compensation?

The protection of the Fifth Amendment does not prevent a government entity from taking private property, but forces the government to pay "just compensation" for the property it takes. This issue is commonly disputed in the Texas courts as many governments want to pay as little as possible to take private land and most private landowners want to obtain as much as they can for their land. Most courts have held the fair market value of the condemned property to be the constitutionally required "just compensation." Its determination is a judicial question, and it is usually determined in a trial by jury, on the basis of the parties' appraisal testimony. In working with private landowners to prove up the value of their land, it is important for their eminent domain lawyer to work with them in obtaining a good expert for a land appraisement.

For more information go to the Eminent Domain and Public Takings Page.

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