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Joy Ford’s ’eminent domain’ case coming up in Nashville court


UPDATE: This morning [Thursday, August 28, 2008], the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) removed its motion for judgment on the pleadings from the court’s calendar in Joy Ford’s fight to save her Nashville music business from eminent domain abuse. As a result, the hearing originally scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. before Judge Barbara Haynes will not take place. In its letter, MDHA notified the court that it will re-set the motion at a later date.The original story follows:

On Friday, August 29, at 9 a.m., Joy Ford will appear in Nashville court for the first time, along with her lawyers from the Institute for Justice, to fight to save her small country music recording and publishing business from an illegal and unconstitutional eminent domain action.

The Institute for Justice is also representing the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition in defending a libel action in Montgomery County courts that is rooted in this city’s redevelopment plan and its potential for the use of eminent domain via an “assemblage” clause in that controversial redevelopment ordinance.

In June 2008, Nashville’s redevelopment agency, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA), filed a condemnation petition against Country International Records located on storied Music Row.  MDHA wants to give the property to a Houston-based private developer to put up a generic office building.

Now, in an audacious and unfounded move, MDHA’s lawyers, who are being paid by the private developer that will benefit from the condemnation. have filed a “motion for judgment on the pleadings,” asking the court to hand over Ford’s property on the basis of the four-page condemnation petition filed by the agency.  MDHA seeks to deny Ford any discovery in the case and wants the judge to order possession immediately rather than hold a trial and hear evidence.

“If MDHA gets its way, it will become impossible for any home or small business owner in Tennessee to prevail against an abuse of eminent domain,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a national non-profit, public interest law firm located in Arlington, Va., that serves as the nation’s leading legal advocate against eminent domain abuse.

Bullock added, “Courts should actually review evidence in eminent domain cases rather than merely rubber-stamping what the agency wants.  We are confident MDHA’s motion will fail.”  Bullock argued the Kelo v. New London eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court and was co-counsel in the first post-Kelo state supreme court case that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ohio.


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