Litigation Update

Litigation Update

Mississippi Supreme Court Halts Condemnations

The Supreme Court of Mississippi has guaranteed that nothing will happen to property owners fighting the State of Mississippi’s attempt to take their property until it has had a chance to review the constitutionality of the State’s actions.  On September 28, 2001, the Court issued a stay of any further proceedings in the trial court.  The Archie family may now live in their homes and on their land until the case is resolved. 

The State of Mississippi is abusing its eminent domain authority by taking the land of three rural property owners, not for a public use, but to give to Nissan to build a truck manufacturing facility.  The State wants to throw these people, who have owned their property for generations, out of their homes and off their land.  The property owners, with the help of the Institute for Justice and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, are fighting back.

The State arrogantly refused to halt its eminent domain actions while the case was pending, so the Institute filed stay motions, first with the trial court, which rejected our request, and then directly with the Supreme Court, which issued the stay the day after we filed our motion.  The property owners can now rest easy in their homes while the Institute brings these vital constitutional issues before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Fight Continues Over New York Eminent Domain Abuse

On September 19, 2001, Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the lawsuit of William Brody and William and Bill Minnich challenging New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law. 

The Judge’s decision was based entirely on procedural grounds.  He held that the Minnichs did not have “standing.”  The Minnichs had consulted a lawyer (not the Institute for Justice) before the government designated their property for condemnation.  The law assumes clients automatically know everything their lawyers know, and thus the Minnichs could not claim they did not understand New York’s procedures.

Bill Brody’s challenge was rejected on “res judicata,” a doctrine that holds that a person may not bring a lawsuit if he could have raised the same issues in an earlier proceeding.  The court held that Brody could have raised the unconstitutionality of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law as a defense in state court when the Village of Port Chester began condemnation proceedings against his property. 

The Judge concluded by noting that the lawsuit addressed a “very serious underlying issue.”  IJ has filed a notice of appeal in the case and will also begin looking for other New Yorkers who have been affected by the same law but who do not have the same procedural complications.


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