News & Events
April 7th, 2016 — In News & Events
2016 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference to be Held at The Hague; Hernando de Soto to Receive Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize
The William & Mary Property Rights Project recently announced that Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), will receive the 2016 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize at the 13th annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights conference October 2016. The Property Rights Project also announced its cooperation with the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden Law School and plans to host this years event in The Hague. Hernando de Soto has been recognized across the globe for his work along side his colleagues at the ILD think tank in designing and implementing legal reform programs to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations by granting people access to the same property and business rights, as well as the institutions and tools needed to exercise those rights and freedoms, that the majority of people in developed countries have. He is the recipient of numerous awards including The Milton Friedman Prize, The Templeton Freedom Prize, the Bradley Prize, and The Economist Magazine’s Innovation Award. Time magazine selected de Soto as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in the May 1999 issue “Leaders for the New Millennium”, and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004.
Mr. de Soto is the author of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (Basic Books, 2000), The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism (Basic Books, 2002), which includes a new updated preface, “The Other Path after Ten Years,” and Swiss Human Rights Book Volume 1: Realizing Property Rights (2006), co-authored with Francis Cheneval. De Soto’s ideas have been written and discussed by economists, humanitarians, politicians and legal scholars. He has been featured in The World’s 12 Most Important Economists (Die zwölf wichtigsten Ökonomen der Welt, 2007).
The Property Rights Conference and Prize have been named in honor of Toby Prince Brigham and Gideon Kanner for their lifelong contributions to protecting private property rights. Recipients of the prize include legal scholars, practitioners or jurists whose work affirms the fundamental importance of property rights to individual liberty.
Past Property Rights Prize recipients include former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2011); Richard E. Pipes, Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, at Harvard University (2009); James W. Ely, Jr. is Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Vanderbilt University (2006); Richard A. Epstein, Tisch Professor at New York University Law School (2005); Frank I. Michelman, Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University (2004); and Michael M. Berger, Mannatt, Phelps & Phillips and Honorary OCA Member (2014).
The Hague will be the second international venue that has hosted the Property Rights Conference. In 2011, the Conference was co-sponsored and hosted at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing, China.
March 22nd, 2016 — In News & Events
OCA Condemnation Lawyer Michael Rikon Earns Prestigious CRE® Designation
The Owners’ Counsel of America is pleased to announce that Manhattan eminent domain lawyer Michael Rikon, the New York representative to OCA, recently received a CRE® designation from the Counselors of Real Estate®. Mr. Rikon, a partner at Manhattan-based Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton, P.C, has practiced law in New York since his admission to the Bar in 1969. Of the more than 1,100 CREs worldwide, Mike is one of the approximately 50 who are practicing attorneys.
Mike Rikon entered private practice in 1980 and has since focused his practice on representing private property owners in eminent domain and real estate matters across New York state. Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton, P.C limits its practice to eminent domain and condemnation law assisting landowners throughout the state of New York.
Mike frequently lectures on topics related to eminent domain, just compensation and property rights. His articles on condemnation and real property law are published in the New York Law Journal, Practical Real Estate Lawyer and other legal and scholarly journals. He also regularly contributes to his firm’s blog “Bulldozers at Your Doorstep.” More about Mike’s professional experience is available on his OCA profile page and at www.grrhpc.com.
Founded in 1953, the Counselors of Real Estate® is the membership organization established exclusively for real estate advisors who provide intelligent, unbiased, and trusted advice for a client or employer. Membership in The Counselors of Real Estate is on an invitation-only basis after a thorough review process. CREs come from a wide array of professional backgrounds-from valuation, consulting, law, brokerage and asset management to development, investment, lending and corporate real estate. They are service providers, owners, capital providers, fiduciaries, academics and public servants.
OCA congratulates Mike Rikon on his many professional achievements and recent designation as a CRE®.
March 14th, 2016 — In News & Events
Alabama Attorney Casey Pipes Joins OCA’s Nationwide Network of Eminent Domain Attorneys
OCA is pleased to announce that Alabama real estate and condemnation lawyer, Casey Pipes, was recently selected for membership in the association. Mr. Pipes will succeed his partner, Warren C. Herlong, Jr., as the Alabama member of OCA.Warren, a charter member of OCA and former Director on OCA’s Board of Directors from 2013 to 2016, has been named as an Emeritus Member of the association.
Welcoming New OCA Member, Casey Pipes
A 1993 graduate of Washington & Lee University and 1996 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, Casey Pipes focuses his practice on eminent domain, land use and real estate litigation representing individuals, businesses and national corporations throughout the state of Alabama. Casey is the managing shareholder and president of the Mobile, Alabama law firm of Helmsing, Leach, Herlong, Newman & Rouse, P.C., where he began his practice as an associate in 1996. He is a designated member of The Counselors of Real Estate®, an international organization of real estate professionals who are recognized as the leading advisors in complex real property matters. Pipes holds Martindale-Hubbell’s® highest rating, AV Preeminent, and has been recognized by Best Lawyers® as a 2016 Mobile “Lawyer of the Year” for real estate litigation.
Casey is the former Chair of both the American Bar Association (ABA) Real Property, Trust and Estate (RPTE) Section’s Condemnation Committee (2013-2015) and the ABA Section of Litigation’s Condemnation, Zoning and Land Use Committee (2010-2013). He is a member of the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers of Alabama (PCMA) and has served on its Associate Board of Directors since 2012. He was recently elected Secretary/Treasurer of the PCMA’s Associate Board. He is also active with the International Right of Way Association.
Affected by Eminent Domain: Protect Your Rights
If you have received a condemnation notice or learn that your property is to be taken by eminent domain, do not hesitate to protect your rights with information and the assistance of an experienced eminent domain lawyer. Contact OCA at (877) 367-6963 or locate an eminent domain lawyer in your state.
February 29th, 2016 — In News & Events
Virginia Property Rights Attorney Jeremy Hopkins Joins OCA
OCA is pleased to welcome eminent domain and property rights lawyer Jeremy P. Hopkins as the Virginia member of OCA’s nationwide network of eminent domain attorneys. Mr. Hopkins succeeds his partner, Joseph T. Waldo, who was a founding member of OCA and who has been named as an Emeritus Member of the association. OCA is grateful to Joe Waldo for his years of dedication and commitment to OCA and to defending property owners. We look forward to continuing to work together with Joe and Jeremy in Virginia and across the United States to protect and preserve private property rights.
Welcoming New Member, Jeremy Hopkins
Jeremy Hopkins, a partner with Norfolk-based Waldo & Lyle, P.C., concentrates his practice on the representation of private property owners in condemnation and property rights litigation throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. A 2002 graduate of William & Mary Law School, he is He is licensed to practice law in the trial and appellate courts of Virginia, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
Mr. Hopkins represents owners of all types of properties and businesses threatened with the condemnation of their private property by local, state or federal governments, utility and energy companies, railroads, and other agencies with the power of eminent domain. Recently he has advocated in court on behalf of property owners opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and has questioned the constitutionality of Virginia’s “quick-take” eminent domain laws on behalf of a landowner fighting the Virignia Department of Transportation’s proposed new road across his residential property.
A Passion for Property Rights
Like his partner and mentor, Joe Waldo, Jeremy Hopkins has a true passion for private property rights and believes in preserving individual liberty. He is proud to say that he has never represented the government nor ever been in the courtroom when he did not believe in his client, his case, and the cause that they represent. He feels that it is an honor to represent private property owners and a privilege to practice law.
Take Action: Protect Your Rights
If you learn that your private property is to be taken by the government using its power of eminent domain, do not hesitate to arm yourself with information and the guidance of an experienced and skilled eminent domain attorney. Contact OCA at (877) 367-6963 or locate an eminent domain lawyer in your state.
February 11th, 2016 — In News & Events
Property Rights Lawyer Donald Joe Willis Honored With OCA’s 2016 Crystal Eagle Award
On January 30, 2016 Owners’ Counsel of America honored Oregon property rights, land use and condemnation attorney Donald Joe Willis with the Crystal Eagle Award for his advocacy over more than four decades on behalf of private property owners in land use, eminent domain and regulatory takings litigation throughout Oregon and nationally.
Donald Joe Willis: A Champion for Property Rights
Willis, a Shareholder with the Pacific Northwest law firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt has represented landowners in many condemnation actions before both courts and juries. He has also successfully litigated numerous land use cases involving the validity and application of government regulations before the Land Use Board of Appeals and in State and Federal courts. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Oregon School of Law, Joe served in the Navy before beginning his career in 1971 at the firm where he worked closely with John Schwabe, a well-known condemnation lawyer whose practice reached across the west coast.
“Joe is extremely passionate about the law,” said Jill Gelineau, OCA Oregon Member. “Perhaps the reason he is so passionate, is because he understands how much the law impacts regular people.” Gelineau added, “Joe cares deeply about property rights but he also cares genuinely for his clients. He puts himself in his client’s shoes and views the case from the client’s perspective.”
In 1978, Willis was appointed as the Oregon Commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). He was reappointed to the position by five separate Oregon Governors and has since been honored with a lifetime membership. Appointed by the Oregon Law Commission to served on the Eminent Domain Work Group, Willis participated in redrafting the state’s Eminent Domain Code. Additionally, He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has served for over a decade on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Legal Foundation.
As John Schwabe was a mentor to him, Joe has been an exceptional mentor to a number of attorneys, particularly those in his firm’s Condemnation and Land Use groups.
Read more about the Mr. Willis and the Crystal Eagle Award here.
Some of Willis’ Noteworthy Cases
- Dolan v. City of Tigard, Case no. 94-1259 in the Circuit Count for Washington County, Oregon, in which he represented the Dolan family. Upon remand from the United States Supreme Court, Willis tried the case with Jill Gelineau reaching a settlement with the city before the trial was completed.
- State ex rel English v. Multnomah County, 348 Or. 417, 238 P.3d 980 (2010), a land use and regulatory takings case that he handled at every level, including oral argument before the Oregon Supreme Court. In this highly publicized case which the Oregonian newspaper described as “Oregon’s best known land use case.” Willis sued Multnomah County on behalf of Mrs. English under an Oregon law providing compensation when a change in zoning prevented development. A recovery of $1.15 million in damages and $1.15 million in fees vindicated Mrs. English’s efforts.
- Danebo Properties v. City of Eugene, a regulatory takings case in which Willis together with Gelineau recovered a $3.95 million settlement against the City of Eugene on behalf of the developer. Here, the judge categorized the city’s demands for an unlawful dedication as “extortion.”
- Molony v. Crook County, in which the Ninth Circuit sustained a jury award of over a million dollars on a civil rights claim against the County stemming from a developer’s unsuccessful attempts to develop his property.
- West Linn Corporate Park LLC v. City of West Linn, a case which Willis and Gelineau tried in federal court. At issue was the application of Dolan‘s rough proportionality standards to the city’s demand that the developer make offsite improvements in order to obtain land use approval. The case wound its way through the Ninth Circuit and Oregon Supreme Court. The Ninth Circuit refused to extend the principles of Dolan and Nolan to the City’s demand for offsite improvements, even though the proposed offsite improvements were not roughly proportional. Willis sought the review of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the Court declined. In 2012, the Court accepted review of the Koontz case and rendered a decision on the identical legal issue with a strong opinion in favor of private property rights.
OCA is honored to present the 2016 Crystal Eagle Award to Joe Willis for his efforts advancing private property rights and mentoring a generation of property rights attorneys.
December 14th, 2015 — In News & Events
ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Course 2016
Eminent domain attorneys, appraisers, engineers and other professionals in the field of eminent domain, property rights and land valuation litigation will gather this January to discuss the hot topics, newest cases and emerging issues impacting eminent domain law and those who practice in this area. The 33rd Annual American Law Institute Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation course is scheduled to take place January 28-30 at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas.
Who Should Attend
This annual conference brings together lawyers, appraisers, right-of-way professionals, and leading academics from around the country to share knowledge and experiences in eminent domain and property valuation law. The course also offers professionals the opportunity to engage with and learn from those who may be on the other side of the issue – both property owner representatives and condemning agents attend and present in this unique forum.
For those who may be new to the practice, returning from time away or just looking for a refresher, a Condemnation 101 tract is offered on Thursday. These sessions take a look at the basics of preparing and presenting an eminent domain case. More experienced professionals may choose from concurrent sessions offering either substantive takings law courses or practical practice pointers. All of the courses are taught by nationally recognized and experienced professionals.
Course Topics, Speakers and Schedule
A number of eminent domain attorneys with the Owners’ Counsel of America will be presenting at this course as well as condemning authority attorneys, a retired Minnesota Supreme Court Judge and well-known law professor. A selection of this year’s topics is listed below:
• A review of the First Ten Years of the Roberts Court and the Court’s property rights opinions presented by OCA Honorary Member & Pacific Legal Foundation Litigation Director Jim Burling
• Valuation concerns in pipelines and energy corridor takings discussed by a panel including OCA’s Joseph Waldo of Virginia
• Advice to condemnees from condemnors
• Successful management of relocation matters presented by OCA attorneys Jill Gelineau of Oregon and Jack Sperber of Colorado along with Right-of-way and Relocation specialist Michael Sullivan
• Engineering issues in power line cases with OCA Florida Member Andrew Brigham and Engineer Robert C. Dew, Jr.
• First amendment claims in property rights litigation: free speech, defamation, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) claims with Institute for Justice Litigation Director and OCA Honorary Member Dana Berliner
• An interview by OCA’s Robert Thomas with filmmaker Ted Balaker about his upcoming movie “Little Pink House” – a story about the infamous Kelo case
Check out the full schedule online here or view the brochure linked below.
November 9th, 2015 — In News & Events
New Jersey Beachfront Residents Represented by OCA Attorney Sue to Prevent Use of Eminent Domain
In October, a group of New Jersey beachfront homeowners brought suit against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) seeking to prevent the agency’s use of eminent domain. Represented by eminent domain lawyer and OCA New Jersey representative Anthony DellaPelle, the property owners argue that the DEP’s plan to construct protective sand dunes on their properties would prevent them from taking their own precautions to avoid damage to their homes and land.
The homeowners argue that DEP’s plans include only the construction of the sand dunes with no plans for long-term maintenance on structures the agency has indicated will likely last only 5 years, yet the agency seeks perpetual easements across their properties. Further, the owners assert that given the perpetual nature of the easements, they would no longer have the ability to build their own storm protection systems instead becoming reliant on the government to protect their private property.
Rather than take this risk, nine property owners have asked the Ocean County Superior Court to enter a declaratory judgment prohibiting the agency from obtaining easements on their land. As their attorney Mr. DellaPelle told NBC New York, “It’s not hard to envision a battle over funding when the next storms wash away the sand . . . [the] homeowners do not want to be dependent on the government to protect their homes.”
As one homeowner noted in a recent Asbury Park Press article, the beachfront property owners inthis community have coordinated and paid for the construction and maintenance of a rock wall, which they credit with minimizing the damage their community suffered as a result of superstorm Sandy. These property owners feel confident in the current storm protection that they have chosen for their properties, but are less confident in the strengthen, longevity and reliability of the DEP’s sand dune project.
NJ Homeowners Allege Unconstitutional and Unlawful Exercise of Eminent Domain
In fighting against the sand dune project, the homeowners argue that the DEP has not been properly authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain. In New Jersey, state agencies can only condemn private property pursuant to legislative authority. However, in this case, DEP is attempting to acquire easements across not only the plaintiffs’ properties – but the land of thousands of property owners along the coast – pursuant to an Executive Order signed by Governor Chris Christie in 2013.
Further, landowners allege that DEP has sought to obtain these “perpetual and assignable easement[s] and right[s] of way” without payment of any compensation to the affected property owners. Additionally, landowners contend that the agency seeks to turn a portion of the plaintiffs’ private oceanfront property into a “public beach.”
An Easement is a Form of “Taking” Requiring Valid Public Use and Payment of Just Compensation
As we have previously discussed, an easement is a form of “taking” by the government even though it does not involve the transfer of ownership of the affected land. An easement can significantly impair the value and use of a piece of property, and private property owners are protected against such impairment by the Fifth Amendment. In the case of these New Jersey homeowners, DEP’s plan to construct sand dunes and designate a portion of their land as a public beach area appears likely to have a significant impact on the value (and even the potential long-term safety) of their properties.
These homeowners are fighting to protect their property rights against the unlawful exercise of eminent domain as well as from an unreliable, short-term government-sponsored storm protection plan that would prevent them from taking steps to protect their private property. We will keep you updated as the case progresses.
October 22nd, 2015 — In News & Events
OCA & NFIB Amici Brief: Cities Can’t Force Homebuilders To Provide More Than Fair Share Of Affordable Housing
Last week, OCA and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center filed an amici curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court urging the protection of private property rights from overreaching government regulation. The brief requests the Court agree to review the California Supreme Court’s decision in California Building Industry Association v. San Jose, No. 15-330 (September 16, 2015).
Background of the Case
This case stems from the City of San Jose’s Ordinance No. 28689, which requires developers of residential projects with more than 20 units to choose either to designate 15% of those units for sale at below-market prices to buyers with qualifying income levels, or construct affordable housing at a different location, give the City land or cash.
- California Building Industry Association (CBIA) challenged the validity of the ordinance ordinance and sought injunctive relief.
- A trial court struck down the ordinance concluding that the ordinance is an “exaction,” and that the City had not first undertaken the required studies to show that the affordable housing crisis in Silicon Valley is caused by the developers of new homes.
- The California Court of Appeal, reversed the trial court and upheld the ordinance, concluding that because the ordinance did not require a developer to give up land or money, it is a zoning restriction, not an exaction and, therefore, subject to the “rational basis” test not to the heightened scrutiny applied by the trial court.
- The California Supreme Court agreed, holding that the purpose of the requirement is to promote affordable housing, not to mitigate the impacts of market priced housing, which is an exercise of San Jose’s police rather than a development exaction.
OCA & NFIB Amici Brief Urges the Protection of Private Property Rights
The amici brief filed by the NFIB and OCA asks the Supreme Court to review this important property rights case and argues:
- San Jose is not simply regulating private property, but has effectively pressed it into public service to alleviate the city’s critical need for affordable housing.
- Although the ordinance does not demand the outright dedication of land, it does require the owner to set aside a certain number of units at below-market value, essentially requiring those units to be dedicated to public use.
- The city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance should have been subject to the heightened scrutiny of the unconstitutional conditions doctrine established by Nollan, Dolan, and Koontz, which hold that before the government can condition permission to build on the developer providing benefits, the government must show that what the developer proposes contributes to the problem, and that the condition will mitigate that impact and is proportional.
- This case provides an opportunity for the Court to clarify that legislatively imposed exactions are subject to review under unconstitutional conditions doctrine.
“While the city’s requirement does not demand land, it clouds the owner’s title for up to 55 years with an encumbrance that prohibits its sale at market value,” stated OCA Hawaii Member, Robert Thomas, a Director with Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert in Honolulu and a contributor to the NFIB-OCA brief. “In reality, it is as if the City were demanding land, and this raises the same anti-extortion concerns that fuel the requirements set forth in the Supreme Court’s decisions in Nollan, Dolan, and Koontz.”
“An ‘out-and-out plan of extortion’ forced upon citizens is just as repugnant when imposed by the legislature as when it is carried out by a government agency,” said Thomas.
October 21st, 2015 — In News & Events
Harvard Law Prof. Joseph Singer Recently Honored with 2015 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize
On October 1, the William & Mary Law School Property Rights Project honored Professor Joseph Singer with the 2015 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize for his scholarship concerning property’s relationship to our political, economic, and social systems. Prof. Singer was honored during a candlelight dinner in the Great Hall of the historic Sir Christopher Wren Building, commencing the 12th annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference.
The 2015 conference included four panels: “Property as a Form of Governance,” “Civil Forfeiture of Property,” “Of Pipelines, Drilling, & the Use of Eminent Domain,” and “Property Rights in the Digital Age.” Owners’ Counsel of America is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this compelling property rights event and looks forward to the 2016 Conference.
More details about the Conference are available at http://law.wm.edu/news/stories/2015/joseph-william-singer-honored-with-2015-brigham-kanner-prize.php
October 1st, 2015 — In News & Events
12th Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference October 1 & 2, 2015
This evening Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will be presented with the 2015 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize on the campus of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Professor Singer will be the 12th recipient of this prestigious award which is presented annually to a scholar, lawyer or jurist whose work has advanced the cause of property rights and has contributed to the overall awareness of the important role property rights play in the broader scheme of individual liberty.
Tomorrow, October 2, 2015, William & Mary Law School will host the Twelfth Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference. The Property Rights Conference and Prize are presented by the William & Mary Property Rights Project. This annual Conference is notable for its unique approach which includes bringing together the members of the bench, the bar and academia on Conference panels, among the participants as well as within the prize recipients (the 2011 Prize Recipient Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is a retired Supreme Court Justice and 2014 Prize Recipient Michael Berger is a practicing appellate attorney, property rights advocate and a Member of OCA). See this list of previous Brigham-Kanner Prize Recipients for more details about the other takings scholars and property rights attorneys who have been awarded the Prize.
The Property Rights Conference and Prize are named in honor of the lifetime contributions made to property rights law by Florida eminent domain attorney, Toby Prince Brigham (now retired) and California appellate and condemnation attorney Gideon Kanner (also now retired). This year’s Conference will discuss Professor Singer’s property rights scholarship in a panel titled “Property as a Form of Governance” as well as tackle issues relating to “Civil Forfeiture of Property” and “Property Rights in the Digital Age.” Possibly the most interesting panel to eminent domain lawyers and property owners nationwide is the third panel “Of Pipelines, Drilling, & the Use of Eminent Domain.” This panel will address the constitutional and legal issues raised by the grant of eminent domain power to pipeline companies and the ownership interests affected by some of the newest methods used to collect fuel – fracking and forced pooling.
While we have attended the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference in years past. We are unfortunately unable to attend this year, however, a number of OCA Members will be in attendance and we look forward to hearing their thoughts on the discussions as well as following along tomorrow via live blog coverage from OCA Hawaii Member, Robert Thomas, at inversecondemnation.com.