Mississippi Eminent Domain Laws
Mississippi Eminent Domain Laws can be found in Chapter 27 of Title 11 of Mississippi Code. Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-1 provides that any person or corporation having the right to condemn private property for public use should exercise that right.
Pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-3, a special court of eminent domain is created. The court consists of a judge, jury, and such other officers and personnel as set out and it shall have and exercise the jurisdiction and powers enumerated. The original powers and jurisdiction is fixed in the county court in each county.
Any person or corporation having the right to condemn private property for public use should file a complaint to condemn with the circuit clerk of the county in which the affected property, or some part thereof, is situated and should make all the owners of the affected property involved, and any mortgagee, trustee or other person having any interest therein or lien thereon a defendant thereto[i].
The complaint is considered a matter of public interest and will be a preference case over other cases except other preference cases. The complaint should:
- describe in detail the property sought to be condemned,
- state with certainty the right to condemn, and
- identify the interest or claim of each defendant.
Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-7 provides that the complaint should be filed with the circuit clerk and should be assigned a number and placed on the docket as other pleadings in circuit court or county court. The plaintiff should also file a lis pendens notice in the office of the chancery clerk immediately after filing the complaint.
The circuit clerk should deliver a copy of said order of the court fixing the time and place for the hearing to the sheriff of the county and to the official court reporter[ii]. The sheriff should attend the court and execute all process. Further, the court reporter should record the testimony.
Evidence may be introduced by either party, and the jury may, in the sound discretion of the judge, go to the premises, under the charge of the court as to conduct conversation and actions as may be proper in the premises[iii]. Evidence of the fair market value should be established as of the date of the filing of the complaint.
Any judgment finally entered in payment for property to be taken should provide legal interest on the award of the jury from the date of the filing of the complaint until payment is actually made. However, that interest need not be paid on any funds deposited by the plaintiff and withdrawn by the defendants prior to judgment.
Upon return of the verdict and entry of the judgment, the applicant should pay to defendants or to the clerk if defendants absent themselves, the differences between the judgment and deposits previously made, if any[iv].
Additionally, the applicant should pay the costs of court, including the cost of jury service as is otherwise provided by law for the court in which the case is tried. Then, ownership of the property described in the petition is vested in petitioner and it may use said property as specified in the petition.
If deposits previously made exceed the judgment, then the clerk or defendant to whom disbursement thereof has been made should pay such excess to the petitioner.
Pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-29, every party has the right to appeal directly to the Supreme Court from the judgment entered in the special court of eminent domain, whether tried in county court or circuit court, by giving notice within ten days from the date of the judgment or final order entered by the court to the court reporter to transcribe the record as taken and by prepaying all costs that may be adjudged against him.
Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-29 further provides that the notice to the court reporter should be given and the costs should be paid as is otherwise required by law for appeals to the Supreme Court.
Also, if the judgment is in excess of the sum, if any, deposited, and the plaintiff, other than the State of Mississippi or any political subdivision thereof, desires an appeal, s/he should deposit a sum, or a good and sufficient surety bond with a surety company authorized to do business in the State of Mississippi, acceptable to the clerk, equal to double the amount of the judgment, less the amount of the deposit, if any, which is held exclusively to secure all damages assessed against plaintiff. In any case where the deposit exceeds the compensation to be paid the defendants as determined by the final judgment, the excess should be returned to the plaintiff.
[i] Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-5.
[ii] Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-11.
[iii] Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-19.
[iv] Miss. Code Ann. § 11-27-27.