One of the unique things about eminent domain cases is that a set of specific procedural rules govern the admissibility of valuation evidence at trial. A new unpublished opinion from the Court of Appeal, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority v. Byun, explores some of the many things that can go wrong when a party ignores those procedural rules.
At the outset, I must admit to a personal stake in this one; this was a case I handled, and which I argued at the Court of Appeal on May 17 (that the decision came out so quickly after argument gives some sense of how the Court felt about the ...
Eminent domain lawyers who practice in Los Angeles County Superior Court are all familiar with LA County's detailed local rules on eminent domain -- "Chapter 16." Chapter 16 is the chapter in the Los Angeles County local rules that deals specifically with eminent domain, and it contains meticulous procedural rules for the conduct of condemnation cases in Los Angeles.
Key provisions involve an elaborate "First Pretrial Conference" requiring a substantial, joint written submission to Department 59 (the LA County eminent domain department), along with detailed expert exchange requirements that go well beyond the Statement of Valuation Data required under California law. (The state-wide requirements for the contents of a Statement of Valuation Data appear in Code of Civil Procedure section 1258.260.)
Last week, Commissioner Mitchell held a meeting of local eminent domain attorneys to discuss proposed changes to the local rules for eminent domain [PDF]. A key purpose of the meeting was to obtain input from the attorneys who live with these rules every day about the proposed changes.
At this point, nothing has been decided about any changes to Chapter 16; indeed, the next step may involve the formation of a small committee to analyze what changes are appropriate. However, the proposal and the discussion at last week's meeting are informative. Indeed, the very fact that the court is taking into account the views of the eminent domain attorneys who will be most affected by any changes that occur indicates the process is likely to be well thought out.
California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.