Oregon Law Review : Vol. 85 No. 4, p. 1063-1094 : Missing from Oregon’s Takings Clause: The Right to a Jury Trial of Compensation in Eminent Domain Proceedings
Although it may be surprising to some, no federal constitutional right to a jury trial exists for eminent domain actions, since, prior to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, these actions were not tried to a common law jury. Because Oregon’s jury trial constitutional provisions largely mirror those in the U.S. Constitution, the Oregon Constitution provides no further protection in eminent domain proceedings than the Federal Constitution. Although a legislature may guarantee a jury trial by statute, this Comment aims to demonstrate that no such guarantee exists within Oregon’s statutes. Thus, a judge could validly deny a litigant’s request for a jury trial in an eminent domain proceeding. While this issue has yet to be directly addressed in an Oregon appellate opinion, Oregon’s newly enacted landmark land use statute, Measure 37 provides opportunities for trial and appellate judges to consider this issue in the near future. To cure any statutory ambiguity and to prevent unnecessary litigation, this Comment argues that the Oregon Constitution should be amended to guarantee the right to have a jury decide “just compensation” for a taking of private property in an eminent domain proceeding.