Section 4: Special Commissioners' Hearing and AwardAnchor: #i1001978
Upon receipt of Form ROW-E-49, Request for Eminent Domain Proceedings, the ROW program office in Austin will review the submission, to the extent requested, to determine the accuracy of the information shown. Then, after the requested Commission Minute Order authorizing ED proceedings (explained in Timing of Eminent Domain Proceedings) is received, the ROW program office in Austin will forward a copy of the Minute Order, with all of the information needed to commence the ED action, to OAG.
The case will be assigned to an AAG who will prepare the proper legal papers to initiate the suit. He will then either file the Petition or Plaintiff's Statement and Notice of Lis Pendens in the proper court himself, or send them to the department for filing. An Order Appointing Special Commissioners, to be signed by the judge, may be filed at the same time. Each court will dictate how these matters will be handled in its jurisdiction. Additional information may be found in the Eminent Domain Guide, Filing of ED Petition & Related Court Papers and the Who, Where, When-Helpful Suggestions for Petition For Condemnation, Lis Pendens and Order Appointing Special Commissioners.
After the Special Commissioners have been appointed by the judge, either the clerk or a department representative will have them sign the Oath of Special Commissioners, Order Setting Hearing Before Special Commissioners, and the Notice of Hearing. Section 21.014 of the Property Code allows each party a reasonable time to strike one of the three appointed Special Commissioners. To avoid a party making their strike at a later date, it is recommended that the department send a copy of the Order Appointing Special Commissioners to each of the parties as close as possible to the order being signed by the judge.
In many jurisdictions the department representative will be responsible for coordinating a date and time for the Hearing with all concerned parties, and for meeting with the Commissioners to have the necessary papers signed by them. Pursuant to Section 21.015 of the Property Code, the Special Commissioners may not schedule a hearing before the 20th day after they were appointed. After the order setting the hearing and a Notice of Hearing for each party named in the suit has been signed by the Commissioners, a department representative competent to testify will serve each named party with a Notice of Hearing, with a copy of the Petition or Plaintiff's Statement attached. The department representative will then complete, sign, and file a Service of Notice of Hearing for each of the notices served. It is required by law that each party be served with a notice of hearing not later than the 20th day before the day set for the hearing, not counting the day of the hearing, before the hearing can be held. See Eminent Domain Guide, Filing of ED Petition & Related Court Papers for step by step instructions and see Who, Where, When - Helpful Suggestions for, Filing of ED Petition, Oath of Special Commissioners, Order Setting Hearing Before Special Commissioners, and Notice of Hearing with Service of Notice Attached.
At the appointed time and place, the Special Commissioners will conduct a hearing to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the property owner(s) in connection with the taking. Normally, a representative from the department will attend the hearing. Both the State and the property owner(s) will be permitted to offer appropriate evidence of the property owner's entitlement to just compensation. Following the hearing, the Special Commissioners will set the amount of compensation to be paid, which is termed "the Commissioners' Award." The AAG will have already prepared the written Commissioners' Award form, and after the appropriate dates and amounts have been entered each Commissioner will sign it. The Award is then filed with the appropriate County or District court and a certified copy obtained. In most instances the AAG will request that department personnel present the award to the judge for filing. See Eminent Domain Guide, Eminent Domain Checklist, Attend Special Commissioners' Hearing and Who, Where, When - Helpful Suggestions for Award of Commissioners.
After the award has been filed, the department representative will submit to the ROW program office in Austin a request for issuance of a State warrant payable to the Clerk of the County Court at Law or Clerk of the District Court in the amount set by the Special Commissioners. This submission will include a certified copy of the Commissioners' Award and necessary supporting papers, as outlined in Payment of Commissioners' Awards. After the State Comptroller has issued the warrant, it will be transmitted to the department representative by the ROW program office in Austin.
Department personnel will deliver the warrant and a Notice of Deposit prepared and signed by a department representative to the clerk of the court, obtain a receipt from the clerk showing when the deposit was made, and immediately send the ROW program office in Austin and OAG a copy of such receipt, along with a file-marked copy of the Notice of Deposit. For further information on preparation of and procedures relating to the Notice of Deposit, see Who, Where, When -Helpful Suggestions for Notice Of Deposit and Memorandum - Notice of Deposit.