The Case Of 58 Trees And The Constitution

Custer County accidentally took a sixth of an acre and 58 trees it wasn’t entitled to when it built a road.  The state and federal constitutions made the county pay for it, but as is often the case, the value assigned to the taking, $277, upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals Thursday, was pitiful.Usually, suing the government is hard.  There are myriad procedural hurdles to clear.  Even substantial compliance with technicalities is often not enough.  And sometimes the government is allowed to do things like withhold proof that it has violated the law, even when you have already seen it, and the government has the smoking gun document in its possession.

But one civil right is special.  This is the right of an owner of property to receive due process and just compensation before the government takes property for a public purpose from the owner.  This is called an inverse condemnation lawsuit.  As the Colorado Court of Appeals explained:

Both the Fifth Amendment and Colo. Const. art. II,

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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