Procedural Issues in Eminent Domain

Procedural Issues in Eminent Domain

By John P. Baker

Excerpted from Procedural Issues in Eminent Domain, 18 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 29

I. Overview

In Texas, an eminent domain proceeding is a two-part procedure involving an administrative proceeding and, if necessary, a judicial proceeding. 2 A condemnor initiates the administrative phase by filing a petition with the appropriate court. 3 After the condemnor files the petition, the judge appoints three special commissioners to assess the property owner's damages. 4 The special commissioners conduct a hearing, enter findings, and determine the property owner's damages from the taking, if any. 5 From the time the condemnor files its petition up to the time the special commissioners issue the award, the proceedings are administrative in nature. 6

Either party may object to the special commissioners' findings by filing written objections and the grounds for such objections with the court that has jurisdiction over the proceeding. 7 The trial court's eminent domain jurisdiction is appellate, not original or concurrent. 8 Accordingly, the parties may not avoid the administrative hearing before the special commissioners even if they wish to do so. 9 Filing an objection triggers the trial court's appellate jurisdiction, and the cause becomes a judicial proceeding in the trial court. 10

II. Administrative Phase

A. Determination of Public Necessity

The entity granted eminent domain power determines whether the particular project is a public necessity. 11 A resolution of the board of directors of a corporation with the power of eminent domain is the proper method for determining public convenience and necessity. 12 Prior to passing a resolution authorizing the property's purchase, any offer made by ...

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