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District of Columbia Eminent Domain Laws

District of Columbia eminent domain laws can be found in chapter 13, title 16, division II of District of Columbia code.  Pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-1301, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has exclusive jurisdiction of all proceedings for the condemnation of real property, with full power to hear and determine all issues of law and fact that may arise in the proceedings.  If the Mayor of the District of Columbia cannot acquire the property by purchase from the owners thereof at a satisfactory price, a complaint may be filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia[i].  The court shall appoint a jury of five capable and disinterested persons and they will appraise the value of the respective interests of all persons concerned in the property[ii].

The plaintiffs may file in a cause, with the complaint or at any time before judgment, a declaration of taking, signed by the Mayor, declaring that the property is thereby taken for use of the District of Columbia[iii].  Once the declaration is filed and amount of the estimated compensation is deposited in the registry of the court, the property shall be deemed to be condemned and taked for the use of the District of Columbia.  The compensation shall be ascertained and awarded in the proceedings and established by judgment therein, and the judgment shall include, as part of the just compensation awarded, interest at the rate of 6 per centum per annum on the amount finally awarded as the value of the property as of the date of taking, from that date to the date of payment[iv].

The court, upon the application of the parties in interest, may order that the amount so deposited be paid on account of the just compensation to be awarded in the proceedings[v].  Upon the final award of compensation, the court shall enter judgment for any deficiency or overpayment.  A writ of execution may be issued on the judgment within the same time, it shall have the same effect as a lien, and shall be executed and returned in the same manner as if issued on any other judgment[vi].  Upon the filing of the declaration of taking, the court may fix the time within which and the terms upon which the parties in possession shall be required to surrender possession to the plaintiffs[vii].

Pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-1317, the court, before accepting the jury, shall hear any objections that may be made to any member thereof and may pass upon any objection.  After the jury examined the land, they shall proceed, in the presence of the court, to hear and receive any evidence submitted on behalf of the District of Columbia and by any person having an interest in the proceeding.  When the hearing is concluded, the jury, or a majority of them, shall return to the court, in writing, their appraisement of the value of the interests of all persons, where the appraisement shall be recorded.  The jury shall take into consideration when a part only is taken the benefit to the remainder of the tract and shall give their appraisement accordingly[viii].

Pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-1318 objections or exceptions to an appraisement of the jury may be filed within 20 days after the return of the appraisement to the court.  The court shall hear and determine any objections or exceptions, and may vacate and set aside the appraisement, in whole or in part, when satisfied that it is unjust or unreasonable.  If the appraisement is vacated and set aside, the court shall appoint a new jury of five capable and disinterested persons who shall proceed as in the case of the first jury.  The appraisement of the new jury shall be final when confirmed by the court.

If the appraisement of the jury is not objected to by the interested parties, it shall be confirmed by the court, or, if the appraisement of the new jury is confirmed by the court, the Mayor shall pay the amount awarded by the jury out of the appropriation made therefor or deposit it, and thereupon the title to the property condemned shall vest in the District of Columbia[ix].  In a condemnation proceeding, it is optional for the Mayor to abide by the verdict of the jury and occupy the property appraised by them, or, within a reasonable time to be fixed by the court in its order confirming the verdict, to abandon the proceeding[x].  If the proceeding is abandoned, the court shall award to the owner of the property involved therein such sum as will in the opinion of the court reimburse the owner for all reasonable costs and expenses.  The sum or sums so awarded constitute a judgment or judgments against the District of Columbia.  An owner is not entitled to the reimbursement in any case where the proceeding is abandoned at the request, or with the consent, of the owner of the property[xi].

[i] D.C. Code § 16-1311.

[ii] D.C. Code § 16-1313.

[iii] D.C. Code § 16-1314.

[iv] Id.

[v] D.C. Code § 16-1315.

[vi] Id.

[vii] D.C. Code § 16-1316.

[viii] D.C. Code § 16-1317.

[ix] D.C. Code § 16-1319.

[x] D.C. Code § 16-1321.

[xi] Id.

Inside District of Columbia Eminent Domain Laws