Section 4: Special Commissioners' Hearing and AwardAnchor: #i1001978
The case will be assigned to an AAG who will prepare the proper legal papers to initiate the suit by e-filing the Petition or Plaintiff's Statement in the proper court. 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 Filing of ED Petition & Related Court Papers, Petition For Condemnation, Lis Pendens and Order Appointing Special Commissioners of the Eminent Domain Guide.
After the special commissioners have been appointed by the judge, either the clerk or a TxDOT representative will have them sign the Oath of Special Commissioners, Order Setting Hearing Before Special Commissioners, and the Notices 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 TxDOT send a copy of the Order Appointing Special Commissioners to each of the parties as soon as possible after the time the order is signed by the judge.
In many jurisdictions the TxDOT 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 TxDOT representative competent to testify will serve each named party (or their authorized agent of attorney) with a Notice of Hearing, with a copy of the Petition or Plaintiff's Statement attached. For parties cited by publication, the attorney ad litem appointed by the judge, is to be served. The TxDOT representative will then complete, sign, and file with the clerk of court the 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 Filing of ED Petition & Related Court Papers, Oath of Special Commissioners, Order Setting Hearing Before Special Commissioners, and Notice of Hearing with Service of Notice Attached in the Eminent Domain Guide.
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 TxDOT 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 in the form of the “Award of Special Commissioners.” The AAG will have already prepared the written Award of Special Commissioners 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. E-filing procedures may vary from county to county. In most instances the AAG will need to e-file the award, unless the AAG requests that TxDOT personnel present the award to the court for filing. See Attend Special Commissioners' Hearing and Award of Commissioners in the Eminent Domain Guide.