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Eminent domain.

The Florida Bar states that the scope and function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain. The Bar states that the committee should keep the members of the Bar informed of developments of great significance in this field, maintain liaison with private companies and governmental agencies who have and use the power of eminent domain, and study and consider legislation, law or problems in the area of eminent domain law as developed by the committee or assigned by the president or the Board of Governors.

As in the past, this year's 87 members of the committee approach eminent domain from varying perspectives. The committee is made up of both government employee attorneys and private practice attorneys. The private practice attorneys represent both government entities (and utilities) and land/business owners in eminent domain matters; exclusively government agencies in these matters; or exclusively land/ business owners in eminent domain matters. Some of the attorneys practice exclusively in the area of eminent domain but many do not.

The continued upturn in property development and construction of capital improvements has again resulted in an active year for the Eminent Domain Committee. The committee's meetings have been educational and collegial in nature, focused on identifying trends related to real property valuation, litigation practice, advancements in technology, recent eminent domain court decisions, and ethics presentations associated with law firm management, client relations as well as advertising and social media issues. The meetings, as always, provide a forum that encourages and fosters open discourse regarding differing perspectives of eminent domain jurisprudence.

The committee chair, Dean R. DiRose, acknowledges with gratitude the hard work of the committee vice chairs, Joel Settembrini, Lorena Hart Ludovici, D. Tobyn DeYoung, and Heather A. Patchen. Several of the vice chairs have served the committee for many years. The vice chairs helped plan the meetings, obtain speakers and sponsors, and introduced the presenters. The chair also thanks the co-editors of our newsletter, Carlos Kelly, Stan Chapman, and Heather A. Patchen for their great work in preparing and producing the committee newsletter and to everyone who made and will make presentations (listed below) at our meetings. Further, the chair gives great thanks to our committee's liaison with The Florida Bar, Chase Early, who helped organize the resources for the meetings, including projectors, podiums, etc., and obtained CLE credit and was instrumental in professionally resolving any and all issues or problems, no matter how big or small, as they cropped up throughout the year. On behalf of the committee, the chair also notes the support and encouragement of Florida Bar President Ramon A. Abadin and President-Elect William J. Schifino, as to the committee's work. The chair also expresses the committee's appreciation of meeting sponsors: appraisers Calhoun, Collister & Parham, Inc.; engineers Mesimer and Associates, Inc.; engineering and environmental consultants Chastain-Skillman, Inc.; and appraisers Durrance & Associates, who generously underwrote, or will be underwriting continental breakfasts and sodas for the meetings. Last, but certainly not least, the chair thanks those committee members who regularly attended the meetings and members, too numerous to mention, who provided input via the committee's email exchange or at the meetings regarding various issues, including the proposed amendments to Rule 4-4.2 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

The committee's September 18, 2015, meeting featured a presentation on e-filing and e-discovery for eminent domain lawyers by attorney Blake H. Gaylord and Judge Richard A. Nielsen of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa. The meeting also included Jerrod S. Mills from Trial Exhibits, Inc., discussing and demonstrating the use of technology in eminent domain trials, and committee Vice Chair Joel Settembrini provided an update regarding the proposed amendments to Rule 4-4.2 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and took comments from the committee members. The meeting concluded with a presentation discussing the GO Hillsborough community-driven transportation plan, given by Mike Merrill, the county administrator of Hillsborough County.

After the September meeting, Vice Chair Joel Settembrini solicited further comments from committee members regarding the proposed amendments to Rule 4-4.2 via the committee email exchange. In January, an updated summary of the committee members' meeting comments and email responses was provided by Joel to The Florida Bar, which indicated that the majority of the committee members who responded opposed the amendments out of concern that such change would potentially impede the free flow of information between representatives of government and representatives of property owners. This update to the Bar also indicated that a minority of the committee members who responded supported the amendments primarily based on the belief that direct pre-litigation communications between property owners' attorneys and governmental representatives may, in some instances, undermine the interests of the government in litigation.

Our January 22 meeting began with an eminent domain caselaw update year in review presented by attorney Charles S. Stratton. Professor Joshua Harris from the University of Central Florida then presented a real estate market update discussing and analyzing trends in development, growth forces, and valuation. Then one of the committee's most well-respected and senior tenured members, Andrew H. Schuster, provided commentary titled "How Eminent Domain May Impact the 2016 Presidential Election." The meeting concluded with an ethics-related presentation by Florida Bar attorney Sheila M. Tuma on advertising, social media, and client relations.

Planning is underway for the June 17 meeting. It is expected that the meeting will include a presentation regarding a recent Florida Supreme Court decision of great significance in the area of eminent domain. Other speakers and topics will be announced. This meeting should be the conclusion of a productive year for the committee.

The leadership of the committee is in good hands going forward with Joel Settembrini taking over as chair, Lorena Hart Ludovici, D. Tobyn DeYoung, and Heather A. Patchen being reappointed as vice chairs, and Kenneth C. Pope being appointed as incoming vice chair for the upcoming year.

Dean R. DiRose, Chair
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Title Annotation:Annual Reports of Committees of The Florida Bar
Author:DiRose, Dean R.
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2016
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