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11.

Procedure for Ascertainment of Just Compensation

When service has been completed, the case should be prosecuted to a speedy conclusion in order to reduce the amount of interest on any award in excess of the amount which has been deposited in court. Prompt action should be taken to conclude the case by settlement, either on the basis of an option (see USAM 5-15.523) or a compromise offer (see USAM 5-15.620 et seq.,) or by having the case set for an early trial on the issue of just compensation.

A trial setting should be delayed only if settlement is imminent. If a settlement agreement appears unlikely, set the case for trial as soon as possible.

  1. The Department must be advised, as far in advance thereof as possible, concerning all dates of hearings, trials, or arguments, including continuances thereof.

  2. Rule 71A(h), Fed.R. Civ.P., authorizes the court when a jury has been demanded to appoint a commission instead of a jury to try the issue of just compensation when certain conditions prevail. In respect to reference to a commission, except as to tracts included in a small tract program (see USAM 5-15.913), and other tracts involving no unusual legal problem or substantial value, the procedure set out should be followed:

    1. If a motion for reference to a commission is filed by a defendant or if the court indicates that he/she is considering the appointment of commissioners, you should immediately notify the Department of this fact, together with your recommendations as to whether objections should be made to the appointment of a commission, and await instructions;

    2. If the court appoints a commission on its own motion, immediately notify the Department and give your recommendation as to whether or not objections should be filed to the order of the court. If possible, no objections should be filed to an order appointing a commission without first obtaining the approval of the Department;

    3. If, in your opinion, a commission should be appointed in a case, notify the Department to that effect and await instructions before requesting the appointment of a commission.

[cited in USAM 5-15.550; ENRD Resource Manual 10]