I began my practice of law in North Mississippi back in 1999. Some of the very first cases I handled were eminent domain cases I filed on behalf of the Mississippi Transportation Commission ("MTC"), the legal entity which acquires land on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Transportation ("MDOT"). I worked as an associate attorney at Hickman, Goza & Gore, PLLC, primarily with one of the partners, James T. "Jim" Metz who was my mentor and good friend. All of the 100+ cases I handled on behalf of MTC, and other condemning authorities, involved the acquisition of private property for the creation or widening of public interstates, highways and bridges - all of which were publicly necessary. I now exclusively represent landowners across the states of Mississippi and Oklahoma whose lands are necessarily required for public use and are sought to be acquired by a Condemning Authority.
Eminent domain is the constitutionally-based process by which a governmental, and in some instances non- or quasi-governmental, entity (the "Condemning Authority") may acquire land from a private person or entity for public use upon the payment of due and just compensation, including payment for the land acquired along with any damages to the remaining property not acquired. In Mississippi, the constitutional provision authorizing such process is found in Article 3, Section 17.
In short, the eminent domain process is begun with an initial offer and attempt to negotiate the purchase of such lands by the Condemning Authority, or a right-of-way agent on its behalf. Should the value offered not be agreeable with the landowner, the case will typically proceed to eminent domain and the filing of a lawsuit by the Condemning Authority against the persons having any interest in the subject property, i.e., the landowner and any easement owners and/or lien holders, such as a mortgage company. Such cases are filed in circuit court or in county court, if present in the county where the subject property is located.
The substantial majority of eminent domain cases involve only a determination of due and just compensation to be paid from the Condemning Authority to the landowner. Essentially, such cases revolve solely around valuation of the subject property. The landowner retains a real estate appraiser to value the subject property, and the Condemning Authority has its appraiser do the same. A jury of 12 persons will listen to the "Battle of Appraisers" in determining the due and just compensation to be awarded the landowner for the taking of the subject property.
I have tried 25+ eminent domain cases before a 12-person jury. I feel I am uniquely qualified to represent landowners in navigating them through the eminent domain process, including through trial and appeal, if necessary. I represent landowners on a contingency fee basis, hourly rate basis, or a hybrid mixture of these bases. I welcome any and all questions you may have about eminent domain law in Mississippi and as of May, 2015, in Oklahoma. I am happy to consult with you for free in determining whether or not a fair and reasonable offer has been made to you for the purchase of your property.