News & Events

February 7th, 2013 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Welcomes New Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 7, 2013, Jacksonville, FL — The Owners’ Counsel of America welcomed two new member-attorneys in January.  Anthony H. Misseldine, Esq. of Jackson White, P.C. in Mesa joined as the Arizona representative and Joseph P. Suntum, Esq. of  Miller, Miller & Canby in Rockville joined as the Maryland representative of OCA.  Mr. Suntum succeeds his partner, James L. Thompson, Esq., who has been named an Emeritus Member of the association.  Owners’ Counsel of America is a network of the country’s most experienced eminent domain and property rights attorneys focused on representing landowners in condemnation and related litigation.  OCA-affiliated attorneys are located in 38 states nationwide.

Anthony H. Misseldine

Tony Misseldine has recently joined the Owners’ Counsel of America as the Arizona representative.

Anthony (“Tony”) Misseldine concentrates his practice on representing Arizona property owners in eminent domain and inverse condemnation proceedings.  He also practices in the areas of real estate valuation, land use litigation and complex commercial lawsuits.

Tony earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College and his bachelor’s degree in business finance from Brigham Young University.  Following graduation from law school in 1987, he was admitted to the Arizona bar and began practicing law in the Phoenix area.  He joined Jackson White in 2011 as a shareholder.  He is licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of Arizona, U.S. District Court for the District of AZ, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Throughout his career, Tony has tried numerous contested condemnation matters and has secured several multi-million dollar awards for his eminent domain clients.

Arizona property owners might know Tony from his contributions to the column, Your Home in the Law, featured in the Arizona Republic. This column, authored by Tony and his fellow Jackson White attorneys, addresses legal issues Arizona homeowners may face. He is a regular presenter at CLE conferences and before landowner, commercial, industrial and agricultural groups on property rights and eminent domain. He also authors the Jackson White eminent domain blog which discusses topics affecting landowners’ rights including condemnation, legislation, recent appellate opinions and property tax assessments and appeals.

Joe Suntum has succeeded his partner, Jim Thompson, and will represent Maryland in the Owners' Counsel.

Joe Suntum has succeeded his partner, Jim Thompson, and will represent Maryland in the Owners’ Counsel.

Joseph (“Joe”) Suntum focuses his practice on the representation of property owners throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia in eminent domain and inverse condemnation litigation.  He also practices in the areas of real estate litigation, complex business litigation and appellate advocacy.  Joe is among the few exceptional trial lawyers who have successfully tried both murder cases and multi-million dollar civil actions.  He has also successfully argued numerous appeals before the Maryland courts of appeal.

Joe received his bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland.  Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Elsbeth Levy Bothe in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Before joining Miller, Miller & Canby, he served four years as an Assistant Public Defender for Montgomery County.  Joe is a member of the American Bar Association, the Maryland Bar Association, and the Bar Association of Montgomery County for which he served as Secretary, 1995-1996 and on the Executive Committee, 1997-1999.

Joe is frequently invited to speak at continuing legal education conferences, including the national Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation and Condemnation 101 courses presented annually by the American Law Institute.  He also regularly publishes articles relating to issues arising in condemnation litigation.

“We are pleased to welcome Tony Misseldine and Joe Suntum and look forward to assisting both attorneys and their firms as they strive to protect and defend the private property rights of Arizona and Maryland landowners,” said Cathy Newman, Owners’ Counsel of America Executive Director.

See the full release announcing Tony’s appointment here and Joe’s here.

 

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February 1st, 2013 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Honors PLF Attorney, James Burling, For His Dedication to Private Property Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PLF Attorney, James Burling Awarding

OCA presented the 2013 Crystal Eagle Award to PLF’s Director of Litigation, James S. Burling. (Pictured L to R: Andrew Brigham, Jim Burling and Robert Thomas.)

January 31, 2013, Jacksonville, Florida — The Owners’ Counsel of America recently honored one of the country’s leading Constitutional attorneys, James S. Burling, Esq., for his commitment to protecting individual liberty, especially the right of private property ownership.  For over 29 years, James Burling has battled the government on behalf of private property owners across the United States in eminent domain, land use regulation and regulatory takings challenges.  As the Director of Litigation and principal attorney in Pacific Legal Foundation’s Property Rights practice group, Mr. Burling has represented landowners from Alaska to Florida.

A graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, Mr. Burling joined the Pacific Legal Foundation as an attorney in 1983.  Over the last 3 decades, he has litigated cases involving regulatory takings, environmental and land use regulations, eminent domain, and Indian law. In 2001, Mr. Burling successfully argued a landmark property rights case, Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606 (2001), before the United States Supreme Court.  Palazzolo established that government is not freed from liability for regulatory infringements against property rights simply because the property might be transferred to a new owner.

PLF's Jim Burling speaks to OCA Members on January 26, 2013 after receiving the Crystal Eagle Award.

PLF’s Jim Burling speaks to OCA Members on January 26, 2013 after receiving the Crystal Eagle Award.

Mr. Burling is the Chairman Emeritus of the Federalist Society’s Environmental Law and Property Rights Practice Group and a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education courses on topics such as the regulation of wetlands, eminent domain, and the taking of private property. He has also been a panelist at the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference, including the 2011 international conference in Beijing, China.  Mr. Burling is often invited to speak before community and property rights organizations on subjects ranging from the regulation of wetlands and endangered species, federal land policy, zoning, regulatory exactions, the public trust doctrine, and the condemnation of private property.

A leading property rights scholar, Mr. Burling has published numerous articles on land use regulation and regulatory takings including: James Burling, The Use and Abuse of Property Rights in Saving the Environment, 1 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conf. Jour. 373 (2012); James Burling and Graham Owen, The Implications of Lingle on Inclusionary Zoning and Other Legislative and Monetary Exactions, 28 Stanford Environmental L. Jour. 397 (2009); Burling, The Latest Take on Background Principles and the States’ Law of Property After Lucas and Palazzolo, 24 University of Hawaii Law Review 497 (2002); and Private Property Rights and the Environment After Palazzolo, 30 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, 1 (2002).

Before becoming an attorney with PLF, Mr. Burling received a Masters of Science degree in geological sciences from Brown University and an undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in New York.  After working as an exploration geologist in Tucson, Arizona, he returned to school at the University of Arizona College of Law, where he served as an articles editor for the Arizona Law Review.

“Annually, the Owners’ Counsel of America identifies individuals who have made a substantial contribution toward protecting the civil right of private property ownership and presents the Crystal Eagle Award,” explained Cathy Newman, Owners’ Counsel Executive Director. “This year, OCA is pleased to recognize Jim Burling for his 30 years of advocacy and scholarship championing the cause of private property rights.  In addition to his work protecting property rights, we are grateful to Jim and PLF for mentoring the next generation of constitutional lawyers who seek to protect individual liberties.”

The Crystal Eagle Award is presented annually to individuals who have contributed toward advancing the cause of property rights.

The Crystal Eagle Award is presented annually to individuals who have contributed toward advancing the cause of property rights.

See the full release here.

 

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January 24th, 2013 — In News & Events

In Miami Beach with the American Law Institute Eminent Domain & Land Valuation Course

We are in Miami Beach this week with eminent domain and land use attorneys, appraisers, engineers and other related professionals from across the country attending the American Law Institute (ALI) Eminent Domain & Land Valuation Litigation Course.  As it has been for the last 30 years, the panelists are excellent and the topics both interesting and relevant.

This morning Prof. Gideon Kanner presented a national case law update followed by Dana Berliner of the Institute for Justice with a discussion regarding the recent legislative reforms and trends state by state.  Today also included two panels on condemning underwater mortgages, the controversial plan by Mortgage Resolution Partners to solve the housing crisis using eminent domain to acquire underwater mortgages to avoid potential future foreclosures.  Panelists included Prof. Robert Hockett of Cornell Law and Owner’s Counsel Hawaii Member, Robert Thomas, who outlined the concept, which Prof. Hockett wrote about in his paper: “It Takes a Village: Municipal Condemnation Proceedings and Public/Private Partnerships for Mortgage Loan Modification, Value Preservation, and Local Economic Recovery.”  Prof. Hockett mentioned that he created a basic template for the use of eminent domain to acquire underwater mortgages about 5 years ago which he started to share with various interested parties.  He also said that MRP’s plan is a version of his original template.

The first session was followed by a panel of practitioners including Owners’ Counsel New Jersey Member, Tony Della Pella, California Member, Ed Burg, and Emeritus Member, Ed McKirdy, as well as Gideon Kanner and New York attorney, Charles Webb.  The discussion was compelling.  We’ll share more about it later as we are off to listen in on a panel presentation that we don’t want to miss.

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January 7th, 2013 — In News & Events

OCA Joins Coalition of Property Rights Advocates as Amicus in Support of Property Owner Seeking Supreme Court Review in Kelo-like Eminent Domain Case

A coalition of property rights advocates including the Owners’ Counsel of America, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, CATO Instiutute, and noted law professors James Ely, David Callies, Todd Zywicki, Randy Barnett, Eric Claeys, and D. Benjamin Barros, has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Petition for Certiorari filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation in Ilagan v. Ungacta, No. 12-723 (cert. petition filed Dec. 7, 2012).

The brief, authored by George Mason law professor, Ilya Somin, argues:

This case presents an opportunity for this Court to clarify the definition of a “pretextual taking” under the Public Use Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), the Court ruled that “economic development” is a public use justifying the use of eminent domain. But the Court also emphasized that government may not “take property under the mere pretext of a public purpose, when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit.” … Unfortunately, Kelo provided only limited guidance on what counts as a pretextual taking.

This case arises out of the U.S. Territory of Guam. Mr. Ilagan owned an apartment complex in Agana, Guam. Mr. Ungacta, who was then the Mayor of Agana, owned a neighboring residential lot. In 1981, the Ungacta property did not have access to a road. Ungacta appraised a part of the Ilagan property that had access, and which was used for parking for Ilagan’s tenants. Soon after, the Guam government condemned the appraised area, paying for it with compensation supplied by Ungacta, and transferred it to Ungacta.

Guam asserted that the taking was for “economic development” occurring under the “Agana Plan,” a post-WWII redevelopment plan enacted to reconfigure irregular lot lines, but which had not been used for seven years prior to the Ilagan taking. No other lots were taken under purported authority of the Plan at the time of the Ilagan taking. In the 30 years since, the Plan has never been used to take any property.

Although the Guam trial court held the taking unconstitutional, the Guam Supreme Court reversed. At the urging of Ungacta (the Guam government did not appeal), that court applied a standard of “judicial deference” under Kelo, and held the taking served a valid public purpose.

More about the Ilagan case and the amici brief is available at inversecondemnation.com, The Volokh Conspiracy and the CATO Institute.

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November 29th, 2012 — In News & Events

OCA Amicus Brief: Property Rights Are Civil Rights Deserving the Highest Constitutional Protections

The Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the landowner in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, No. 11-1447 (cert. granted October 5, 2012) urging the United States Supreme Court to reverse a Florida Supreme Court decision which found that the local government agency need not comply with two landmark U.S. Supreme Court property rights decisions when demanding money or other “exactions” in return for granting property owners permission to develop their land.

“OCA filed this brief because the issues are vitally important to property owners nationwide, not just in Florida,” said Robert H. Thomas. Thomas, an attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in Honolulu and the Hawaii member of OCA, prepared the brief.

The U.S. Supreme Court established in the landmark 1987 decision Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), that land-use regulators cannot impose demands upon owners unrelated to a proposed development as the price for permitting or other regulation.  In 1994, the Court followed with another landmark decision, Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994), which held that exactions demanded of property owners must be “roughly proportional” to the impact of the proposed development. Together, these standards have been part of the regulatory landscape for over two decades, and require state and local governments to expressly justify exactions – conditions or financial obligations imposed on owners or developers wishing to develop land – and articulate their reasons for demanding them.

In Koontz, the Florida Supreme Court opined that those standards are only applicable when regulators demand land, and not when they condition development permissions on the “donation” of money or other property. OCA argues that the Florida court’s ruling should be reversed because there is no logical or legal reason why the Constitution protects property owners who are asked to surrender land, but does not protect those asked to surrender other forms of property.

“Property rights should not be treated differently simply because the taking is measured in dollars versus square feet,” said Andrew Prince Brigham, a Jacksonville eminent domain and property rights lawyer and the Florida member of OCA.

OCA also responded to the Florida court’s assertion that application of these transparency requirements will unduly interfere with land-use planning by citing a California study that the nexus and proportionality requirements actually have improved planning practices, and have been well-received by land-use regulators. “In jurisdictions where state and local officials adhere to these standards for all exactions, regulation is robust, and the sky has not fallen,” said Thomas.

OCA’s brief makes two distinct points. First, a government requirement that landowners pay money or provide another tribute as a condition for exercising the constitutional right to use their own property is just as much a taking as the requirement that owners donate land because money, like land, is property protected from uncompensated seizure by the government. Second, applying the heightened scrutiny required by the nexus and proportionality tests of Nollan and Dolan to monetary and other exactions will not interfere with land-use planning nor unduly burden governments.

“This is an important case, one of three property rights cases the Supreme Court is currently considering,” said Thomas. “OCA filed this brief to remind the Court that property rights are civil rights and deserve the highest constitutional protections,” he added.

The case is scheduled for oral argument on January 15, 2013.

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November 28th, 2012 — In News & Events

OCA Supports Florida Landowner as Amicus in Supreme Court Property Rights Case

Amicus Curiae BriefThe Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the landowner in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District (11-1447) urging the United States Supreme Court to reverse a Florida Supreme Court decision which found that the local government agency need not comply with two landmark U.S. Supreme Court property rights decisions when demanding money or other “exactions” in return for granting property owners permission to develop their land.

“OCA filed this brief because the issues are vitally important to property owners nationwide, not just in Florida,” said Robert H. Thomas. Thomas, an attorney with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in Honolulu, is the Hawaii member of OCA and prepared the brief.

The U.S. Supreme Court established in the landmark 1987 decision Nollan v. California Coastal Commission that land-use regulators cannot impose demands upon owners unrelated to a proposed development as the price for permitting or other regulation. In 1994, the Court followed with another landmark decision, Dolan v. City of Tigard, which held that exactions demanded of property owners must be “roughly proportional” to the impact of the proposed development. Together, these standards have been part of the regulatory landscape for over two decades, and require state and local governments to expressly justify exactions and articulate their reasons for demanding them.

In Koontz, the Florida Supreme Court opined that those standards are only applicable when regulators demand land, and not when they condition development permissions on the “donation” of money or other property. OCA argues that the Florida court’s ruling should be reversed because there is no logical or legal reason why the Constitution protects property owners who are asked to surrender land, but does not protect those asked to surrender other forms of property. “Property rights should not be treated differently simply because the taking is measured in dollars versus square feet,” said Andrew Prince Brigham, the Florida Member of OCA.

OCA also responded to the Florida court’s assertion that application of these transparency requirements will unduly interfere with land-use planning by citing a California study that the nexus and proportionality requirements actually have improved planning practices, and have been well-received by land-use regulators. “In jurisdictions where state and local officials adhere to these standards for all exactions, regulation is robust, and the sky has not fallen,” said Thomas.

OCA’s brief makes two distinct points. First, a government requirement that landowners pay money or provide another tribute as a condition for exercising the constitutional right to use their own property is just as much a taking as the requirement that owners donate land because money, like land, is property protected from uncompensated seizure by the government. Second, applying the heightened scrutiny required by the nexus and proportionality tests of Nollan and Dolan to monetary and other exactions will not interfere with land-use planning nor unduly burden governments.

“This is an important case, one of three property rights cases the Supreme Court is currently considering,” said Thomas. “OCA filed this brief to remind the Court that property rights are civil rights and deserve the highest constitutional protections,” he added.

The case is scheduled for oral argument on January 15, 2013.

The Supreme Court docket is available here.

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November 5th, 2012 — In News & Events

Eminent Domain is Question 1 on Election Day in Virginia

Tomorrow when Virginians go to the polls Commonwealth voters will have an opportunity to not only cast their vote for the many candidates running for political office but also for a constitutional amendment relating to eminent domain.

Question 1 on the Virginia ballot reads as follows:

Shall Section 11 of Article 1 (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damages is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (ii) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use?

If Virginians vote in favor of Question 1, they will be voting in favor of private property rights and against the government’s misuse of the power of eminent domain.  In a Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post published yesterday, Steve Anderson an attorney with the Institute for Justice in Arlington, explained that “Virginians require a unique solution because their constitution contains an odd quirk: “The General Assembly is explicitly permitted to change the definition of “public use” – what delineates how eminent domain can be used – from year to year.  Question 1 simply declares the right to property as fundamental and prevents further politicizing of the government’s power to forcibly acquire property.”

If Virginians vote “Yes” on Question 1, they will be voting in favor of more fully compensating those affected by eminent domain including for economic losses to one’s business that occur as a direct result of the taking, rather than merely providing “fair market value” for the property acquired.  As Gideon Kanner points out in this post today, “the most egregious aspect of that legal reality is the rule that under which nothing is paid for businesses that are damaged or even completely destroyed by the taking.”  If Virginians vote Yes on 1, they vote in favor of providing business and property owners compensation for both economic losses and loss of access that results from the taking.

In a recent piece in The Roanoke Times, Virginia Owners’ Counsel member Joseph Waldo argued in favor of Question 1, “We would not be voting Nov. 6 on a property rights constitutional amendment if every public official acted with such admirable restraint and respect.  Economic temptation and political pressure have led too many officials to stretch eminent domain laws to condemn property for shopping centers and offices, or to shortchange property owners, particularly the elderly, minorities, the uneducated and politically powerless.”

“The system has failed to write rules and to abide by them.  On Nov. 6, Virginians can write the rules themselves by voting yes.  Once in the constitution, property rights will be beyond the reach of those who would take them away,” said Waldo.

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October 31st, 2012 — In News & Events

Inaugural Volume of the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal Published

The William & Mary Law School Property Rights Project recently announced the publication of the inaugural volume of the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal.  This inaugural volume of the Journal reflects upon the 2011 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference which was held in Beijing, China  during which the Brigham-Kanner Price was bestowed upon Justice sandra Day O’Connor.  The inaugural volume features 17 articles from both American and Chinese scholars and practitioners all of whom participated as panelists in the 2011 Conference.

Lynda L. Butler, Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of the Property Rights Project at William & Mary Law School is the editor of the Journal.  “Our goal for the 2011 Conference was to promote understanding of the property rights systems of different countries and to shed light on the common attributes of property systems in complex societies,” she said.  “This inaugural volume is an effort to extend the discussion to a wider international audience.”  The Conference Journal will contain the proceedings of the Conference, as well as, select non-conference articles.

The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference, Prize and Journal are named in honor of OCA Members Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner for their lifetime contributions to the law of private property rights, for advancing constitutional protections for property rights, and for their accomplishments in preserving the important role property ownership plays in protecting individual freedom.  Mr. Brigham is a Florida attorney who has dedicated his more than 40 years of practice to representing the private property owners in eminent domain, inverse condemnation and related property rights litigation.  Mr. Kanner is a Professor of Law Emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and has practiced eminent domain, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings and appellate law for over 40 years.  Professor Kanner is currently Of Counsel at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP in California.

Annually, the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference brings together members of the bench, bar and academia to explore recent developments in takings and property law and awards the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize to a scholar for his or her legal scholarship in the law of property rights.  The 2012 Conference was held on the campus of William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia October 11 & 12.  For more about the 2012 conference see our previous post here.

The Conference Journal is published by the Property Rights Project and is available for subscription at the price of $15 per volume.  Subscription requests can be sent to Jan Abbott (jgabbo@wm.edu) at the William & Mary Journal Center.  The Journal will be available on the Property Rights Project website this Winter.

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October 31st, 2012 — In News & Events

The William & Mary Property Rights Project Launches The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal

The William & Mary Property Rights Project recently announced the publication of the inaugural volume of the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal. The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference Journal, named in honor of Owners’ Counsel Members Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner or their lifetime contributions to private property rights, their efforts to advance the constitutional protection of property, and their accomplishments in preserving the important role that private property plays in protecting individual and civil rights. Since 2004, the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference has recognized outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of property rights with the annual presentation of the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize.

The inaugural conference journal reflects upon the 2011 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference on Comparative Property Rights which was held in Beiing, China and features 17 articles written by the leading scholars and practitioners from the U.S. and China who participated in the 2011 Conference. The journal includes a number of articles that explore the similarities and differences between property systems in the U.S., China, and other countries as well as articles reflecting upon the property rights decisions of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the 2011 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize recipient.

Volume 1 of the journal includes articles by Owners’ Counsel Members, Alan T. Ackerman of Ackerman Ackerman & Dynkowski, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and James S. Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation. Mr. Ackerman’s article “Incorporation of the Right To Just Compensation: The Fourteenth Amendment vs. The Takings Clause” discusses the history of the creation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the relationship between the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments with respect to the power of eminent domain as it is used to take private property for a public purpose. The Fourteenth Amendment states in part: “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…”.

In “The Use and Abuse of Property Rights in Saving the Environment,” Mr. Burling discusses the threats to property by environmental initiatives over the past 40 years and how those initiatives have evolved from from the ideals of conservation to the schemes of preservation. He examines whether theses threats to private property ownership are in fact severe attacks on Americans’ individual liberty or simply regulatory hurdles that landowners must jump along the way to enjoying their private property rights.

Other American scholars and practitioners who authored articles for the journal are:
Lan Cao of William & Mary Law School;
Robert C. Ellickson of Yale Law School;
James W. Ely, Jr., of Vanderbilt University;
Richard A. Epstein of New York University School of Law;
Lee Anne Fennell of the University of Chicago Law School;
Mark F. (Thor) Hearne II, Steven Haskins and Meghan S. Largent of Arent Fox, LLP;
Frank I. Michelman of Harvard University;
Carol M. Rose of the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law (professor emerita, Yale Law School);
Patricia E. Salkin of the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center (and formerly of Albany Law School) and Daniel Gross of Albany Law School.

The perspectives of distinguished Chinese scholars and practitioners also are represented in this initial volume of the conference journal.
Lu Zhongmei of the Hubei University of Economics;
Zhou Ke and Xu Ya of the Renmin University of China School of Law;
Libin Zhang of Siemens (Asia & Australia);
Yun-chien Chang of Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica;
Shitong Qiao (J.S.D. Candidate) of Yale Law School;
Wenjun Wang and Shuxin Zhu of Dalian Maritime University.

The journal is published by the William & Mary Law School Property Rights Project and is available by subscription for $15 per volume. To subscribe to the journal, email Jan Abbott at the William & Mary Journal Center. The journal will be also be made available on the Property Rights Project website.

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October 19th, 2012 — In News & Events

Eminent Domain Match-Up: Burger King over North Kansas City

North Kansas City is suffering from what one reporter has referred to as “legal heartburn” after a Clay County (Missouri) Circuit Judge found that the City of North Kansas City did not have the power to condemn a Burger King restaurant in an area the City wishes to redevelop.

In his October 1, 2012 order Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert wrote that the City failed to comply with the requirements of the proper Missouri statutes when it passed Blight Ordinance No. 8476 and the ordinance, therefore, is void.  Because the City did not have the authority to acquire certain real property in eminent domain proceedings and, further, did not meet Missouri ‘s statutory requirements for determining the property “blighted,” Judge Gabbert dismissed the condemnation action.

While the attorney representing the City has indicated that the City may appeal the judge’s decision, the property owner has won this round by defeating the taking and retaining ownership to the property.  (Unfortunately, Judge Gabbert did not award the owner attorneys’ fees, which may be awarded in other jurisdictions when a property owner defeats the taking.)

St. Louis attorney, Robert Denlow, the Missouri member of the Owners’ Counsel, defended the property owner in the condemnation action.  Denlow explained that this particular Burger King store is the most profitable of the 24 owned by the franchise operator.  He was quoted by the above-referenced reporter as saying:  “We’ve always told the City that we want to be a good citizen, but we wanted to be protected and want to be part of the community in the future.  If they want to develop the property, we said, ‘Great. have a developer talk to us.'”

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