Chaining Yourself to a Tree Just Won’t Work: Relocating Condemnees.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s announcement to construct two new toll roads as part of a $5 billion expansion of the turnpike system brought pledges of refusing to cooperate if the Authority is awarded the land.  Residents are considering chaining themselves to tress, bulldozers or simply refusing to leave.

According to an article published in “The Noman Transcript,” Oklahoma:

Before an eviction order, if a landowner does not cooperate with the court’s ruling, the OTA could seek an injunction to order the person from “interfering with their (OTA’s) property rights,” Gray said.

If the injunction remains unheeded, the resident would likely be found in contempt of court.

“As soon as the OTA says they own that property and they don’t leave, that [person] is trespassing,” Gray said.  “They would have the right if someone interfered with their property right to file an injunction, and they’ll ask for a forcible entry and detainer to have that person removed.  The turnpike authority isn’t going to do it (remove) – the sheriff’s department is going to do it.

“If the person is chained to the tree and refuses to unchain from the tree, they’re probably going to put them in handcuffs and take them to jail.  They’re going to talk to the judge until they say they’re not going to go back and chain themselves to a tree.”

Gray clarified that eviction is a court process.

In New York, it is the same.  Possession of the condemned property is controlled by Section 405 of the Eminent Domain Procedure Law.  If the condemnor has a right to possession and the condemnor shall deem it necessary to cause the removal of a condemnee or other occupant by either a landlord-tenant proceeding, or as is most often the case, by proceeding in the Condemnation Part, Supreme Court for a Writ of Assistance.

Granting a Writ of Assistance to throw out a former owner or legal tenant is one of the least favorite matters for a Judge.  An application for a writ will be adjourned repeatedly to give the condemnee time to move on its own.  Judges will do everything possible to arrange a satisfactory vacate date as long as the occupant is proceeding reasonably.  A condemnor may not obtain possession unless and until it first pays the condemnee an advance payment.  Then it still has to afford reasonable time for the condemnee to relocate.

Posted in Eminent Domain, Eviction, Writ of Assistance
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