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Eminent Domain Process

Acquisition Phase

After a project has been planned and the property necessary to that project determined the law generally requires that the condemning agency make a good faith bona fide offer to the landowner to purchase the property before it condemns the property.  As a general rule the condemning agency will have the property appraised and make an offer to the landowner based on that appraisal.  The requirement to make a good faith bona fide offer to the landowner is a jurisdictional requirement under the eminent domain law in most jurisdictions.  The landowner is not required to accept this offer and generally there is negotiation between the parties.  If the negotiations, fail the matter proceeds to the next level which involves court proceedings to condemn the property.

Court Process

If the property is not acquired by private negotiations the condemning agency files a petition to condemn the property in the district court having jurisdiction of the property.  The petition for condemnation simply alleges that the agency is performing a public project, the agency has the power of eminent domain, that the property is necessary to do the project, the parties have been unable to agree on an amount to be paid as “Just Compensation” to the landowner and that the amount of “Just Compensation”  should be determined by the Court.  After the petition to condemn the property is filed a hearing is held where the court appoints three people to serve as independent “Commissioners” in the matter.  These people are to examine the property being condemned, consider the issues and make an independent estimate of what they believe should be paid as “Just Compensation” to the landowner for the property being condemned and any resulting damages.  After this commissioners’ report is filed with the Court the landowner has thirty days in which he may object to the condemnation of his land.  This is the point where the landowner can challenge the legality of the condemnation of his land.  Also, within sixty days of the report of commissioners the landowner must file a demand for jury trial on the issue of the amount of “Just Compensation” or the right to a jury trial is lost. 

Appeals

The issue of whether the condemnation is legal is an issue to be tried to the Judge and not a jury.  The landowner has a right of appeal from this decision to the appellate courts.  The issue of how much money constitutes “Just Compensation” is a matter upon which the landowner has a right to a jury trial.  The jury’s determination is subject to appeal just as in other civil actions.


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At the Ritchie Law Firm in Pryor, OK we represent clients throughout Oklahoma, including Pryor, Claremore, Wagoner, Vinita, Jay, Muskogee, Tulsa, Nowata, and Sapulpa. 
Through the following counties: Mayes County, Rogers County, Tulsa County, Craig County, Wagoner County,
Muskogee County, Nowata County, Delaware County, Osage County, and Creek County.