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Richard Epstein on the Didden Pretextual Takings Case:

University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein has an excellent column discussing recent development in the case of Didden v. Village of Port Chester, the notorious takings case where a politically connected developer was able to get a property condemned because the current owners refused to pay him the $800,000 he demanded as the price for leaving them alone.

Epstein and I earlier joined several other property scholars in filing an amicus brief unsuccessfully urging the Supreme Court to hear this case, which went against the property owners in the Second Circuit on the ground that this kind of government favoritism was permitted under Kelo v. City of New London. In our view, this kind of clearly pretextual taking is forbidden even under Kelo's extremely lax standards. But the Court refused to take the case.

In this column, Epstein points out that not only is the owners' land being taken for indefensible reasons, they also aren't being paid anything approaching adequate compensation for the loss of their property.

Last year, Epstein and I published an op ed further discussing the case in the National Law Journal (full text available now only to subscribers; but this sentence links to excerpts).

Richard Aubrey (mail):
So, now does Kelo-ing a SCOTUS judge's property seem so unreasonable?
4.16.2008 5:27pm
PLR:
Hey, even referees need to take a mental health day every once in a while. Those uniforms are stifling, I hear.
4.16.2008 5:28pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I suspect this will be about as popular here as suggesting that some priests can't be trusted around small boys would have been in 1950, but have you ever considered that some judges - or even Justices - may be for sale?

It's one explanation for some odd decisions.
4.16.2008 6:21pm
teqjack (mail):
I assume there is no evidence of what appears to be solicitation of a bribe.

Otherwise, while perhaps outlandish, it seems legal. If memory serves, when the Supremes ruled in Kelo the opinion included their regret at having to find as they did and the somewhat forlorn hope that laws would be changed.

And I was tempted to be upset at the proferred two-thirds value settlement for a couple of seconds, before remembering that "assessed" property value is seldom in accord with "market" value. Often less, but occasionally more - and even by design.

I do not think the Village of Port Chester has acted properly by any means. GOod luck to Didden et al.
4.16.2008 6:27pm
Smokey:
I agree 100% with PersonFromPorlock. Anyone who believes that someone who puts on a black robe is suddenly exempt from human nature needs to rethink their premise.
4.16.2008 7:33pm
Roscoe B. Means:
The link to the brief in the prior post seems to be broken. Any chance that it could be updated in this blog entry?

I assume there is no evidence of what appears to be solicitation of a bribe.


I assume you didn't read the article. "Either pay me $800,000 to build, give me a piece of the action, or I'll have the village take the property," sounds like solicitation of a bribe followed by an extortion threat.
4.16.2008 8:17pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

I assume you didn't read the article. "Either pay me $800,000 to build, give me a piece of the action, or I'll have the village take the property," sounds like solicitation of a bribe followed by an extortion threat.


I assume you didn't understand teqjack's question. The question is whether there is evidence of solicitation of a bribe. That is, do we merely have Didden's word that Waster said this, or are there independent witnesses, a tape recording, or documents to corroborate it? The mere statement of the plaintiff is not very strong evidence by itself.
4.16.2008 9:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Perhaps every public official should be subject to forensic financial audits at random intervals for the rest of his life. Including SCOTUS, presidents, and township clerks.
Include university presidents who have suddenly decided that multicultural includes only Islamic Centers.
4.16.2008 9:42pm
Roscoe B. Means:

I assume you didn't understand teqjack's question. The question is whether there is evidence of solicitation of a bribe. That is, do we merely have Didden's word that Waster said this, or are there independent witnesses, a tape recording, or documents to corroborate it? The mere statement of the plaintiff is not very strong evidence by itself.


Wow, you're right. I didn't understand what "evidence" is. Now that I do, I'm horrified by the realization that I've convicted people of dozens of crimes, including murder, without any evidence.
4.18.2008 12:11am