When your land is being taken by the government, what can you do if you disagree with the judgment of the special commissioners?
Any party may appeal the Award of the Special Commissioners by filing an objection with the appropriate court. Texas Property Code, Section 21.018, states that a party in a condemnation proceeding may object to the findings of the special commissioners by filing a written statement detailing both specific objections and the ground for these objections. The statement must be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over the condemnation proceeding. This filing must occur on or before the first Monday following 20 days from the date that the commissioners’ findings were filed with the court. However, the amount of time allotted to file the objection is tolled (delayed) until the court clerk sends notice of the commissioners’ award by certified or registered U.S. mail—return receipt requested—to the parties involved in the proceedings or their attorneys of record at their addresses of record.
If no files an objection, the decision of the special commissioners becomes final and the court is without authority to try the case. The court must adopt the commissioners’ award as a judgment of the court. A party who files an objection to the special commissioners’ award must ensure that notice of the citation (the appeal) is issued to the opposing party. If the objecting party fails to secure service of citation to the other party within a reasonable time, the trial court must dismiss the objections for want of prosecution and must also reinstate the special commissioners’ award. However, some circumstances, such as filing one’s own objections, may submit a party to the jurisdiction of the court even if a party has not been formally served.
If objections to the commissioners’ award are filed in the proper way, the county court at law or district court at law will try the case “de novo.” A trial de novo is a judicial proceeding in which the entire case is reconsidered. Neither party is limited to the claims or evidence presented during the special commissioners hearing. This trial will be a judicial proceeding as normally conducted by the court. The same evidence discussed in question 12 above will be admissible at trial.
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