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CASE: 20-0393: JAMES FREDRICK MILES v. TEXAS CENTRAL RAILROAD & INFRASTRUCTURE, INC. AND INTEGRATED TEXAS LOGISTICS, INC.

RECENT CASE ACTIVITY

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Supreme Court of Texas - - JAMES FREDRICK MILES v. TEXAS CENTRAL RAILROAD & INFRASTRUCTURE, INC. AND INTEGRATED TEXAS LOGISTICS, INC.

"On the narrow issue presented, we hold that the Texas Central Entities have eminent-domain authority under Chapter 131 of the Texas Transportation Code. The court of appeals thus correctly (1) reversed the trial court’s judgment, (2) rendered judgment granting the Texas Central Entities’ motion for partial summary judgment and denying Miles’s summary-judgment motion, and (3) remanded for reconsideration of the issue of attorney’s fees and costs. We affirm the court of appeals’ judgment."

Click here to read the entire Court Opinion.

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Petitioner James Fredrick Miles asks the Court to disregard the post-submission letter filed on January 20, 2022 by Respondents TCRI and ITL because it violates Texas rules and the Court’s procedures.

1. Without being asked and without seeking permission, Respondents have filed a 14-page, 4,978 word “post-submission letter.” This letter tries to answer oral-argument questions that Respondents were not asked, while also trying to re-answer questions they were asked. No federal appellate court in this country would tolerate such a filing, and this Court should not either.

Click to read more.

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Texas Central's post-submission letter addressing questions asked by the Justices during oral argument on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

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"The Court has before it significant private property rights issues and policy matters regarding the interpretation of statutes affecting all Texas landowners. For these reasons, and the host of other reasons adequately set forth by Petitioner James Frederick Miles, the STPRA respectfully asks this Court reverse and render judgment for the Petitioner in this case."

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TX Solicitor General Judd Stone II & Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in support of the landowner in the James Miles v. Texas Central case before the Texas Supreme Court. Click to read article. Click to read Brief.

LEGISLATIVE SUPPORT & ACTION

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Brady: Texas Supreme Court Deals Blow to Property Rights; Decision Won't Save "Zombie" Train

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08) released the following statement after the Supreme Court of Texas upheld eminent domain authority for Texas Central's controversial high-speed rail project.

“This is a hard punch to Texas landowners and their property rights. But as to the insolvent high-speed rail project, this decision is inconsequential.

With no funding, staff, board or permits to construct, Texas Central is basically a zombie train at this point – and this ruling won’t breathe life back into it.”

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Congressmen Kevin Brady (TX-08), Jake Ellzey (TX-06) and I sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressing our continued opposition to Texas Central Railroad's (TCR) ability to access taxpayer-subsidized federal funding for their high-speed rail project from Houston to Dallas.

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"Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08) and Congressman Jake Ellzey (TX-06) sent a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg of the Department of Transportation and Dr. Morteza Farajian of the Build America Bureau to express their concern about Texas Central Railroad’s (TCRR) intention to access $12 billion in federal loans for their high-speed rail (HSR) project from Dallas to Houston.

“Texas Central Railroad has yet again reneged on their promise after vowing for years to not seek federal funding for their proposed high-speed rail project,” said Congressman Kevin Brady. “Taxpayers should not be left on the hook for boondoggle projects that never come to come to fruition. I will always fight to protect federal taxpayers—not only in my district, but across America—to make sure our constituents aren’t stuck holding the bag when rail projects default on their loans.”

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"I am writing in my capacity as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas’ 6th Congressional District. I am also writing as a landowner and lifelong Texan. I support Petitioner Jim Miles’ Motion for Rehearing and am asking this Court to grant Mr. Miles’ petition for review."

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"As the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and an eighth generation farmer and rancher, I am filing this letter in support of Petitioner Jim Miles. The TDA is a diversified state agency whose mission is to make Texas the nation’s leader in agriculture, protect consumers, fortify our economy, empower rural communities, promote healthy lifestyles, and cultivate winning strategies for rural, suburban and urban Texas. It is my responsibility to further these missions and to protect Texas’ $115 billion agriculture industry that touches the lives of every Texan every single day."

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"Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) submits this letter brief in support of Petitioner James Frederick Miles’ Motion for Rehearing on his Petition for Review.

Each time a private entity is allowed to condemn private property without a robust, fair, and public process, the constitutional protections of private property are eroded. Respondent’s efforts to circumvent these constitutional protections, process, and statutory requirements should be addressed. Constitutional gatekeeping mandates stricter scrutiny than the court of appeals applied here. TSCRA urges the Court to grant the Motion for Rehearing and the Petition for Review in this case and take this important and essential opportunity to confirm the constitutional protections of private property and due process."

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"As an elected member of the Texas' legislative branch, I file this letter to express my interest in defending the property rights of Texas landowners and prevent any private entity not expressly authorized to exercise the extraordinary power of eminent domain from seizing their private property."

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"As duly elected members of the state legislature, we file this letter to express our interest in protecting all landowners in Texas from having their private property taken from them by any private entity not expressly authorized to exercise the extraordinary power of eminent domain."

Rep. Ben Leman, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Sen. Charles Schwertner, Sen. Brian Birdwell, Rep. Cecil Bell, Rep. Cody Harris, Rep. Kyle Kacal, Rep. Will Metcalf, Rep. Trent Ashby, Rep. Steve Toth, Rep. Tom Oliverson

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"The Court should grant rehearing of Miles’s Petition for Review because the Court of Appeals improperly found Respondents to be a railroad company with eminent domain authority. Allowing a private, for-profit company eminent domain authority as a railroad without a showing by Respondents that they are actually operating a railroad encroaches on the property rights of Texas landowners, particularly those living in rural areas, guaranteed by the Texas Constitution."

PRESS

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D Magazine - - By Christine Allison

The Morney-Berry Farm has been in the same family since 1876. Descendants of the original owner have spent their lives protecting it. And now, a Texas Supreme Court ruling puts its future in jeopardy.

The Morney-Berry Farm, located about 20 miles south of Dallas, is quiet now. That wasn’t always the case. Its patriarch, James Morney, bought the land in 1876. He and his descendants worked it hard for four generations. Though they operated just a few steps ahead of survival, the Morneys were duty-bound as a family to hold on to the land. They turned the inhospitable, craggy acreage into a thriving spread of pecan and cedar trees, harvesting hay and corn crops.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Dallas Business Journal - - By Holden Wilen

Texas Central plans to build a $30 billion high-speed train between Dallas and Houston.

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The Texan - - By Kim Roberts

By a vote of 5-3, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas Central qualifies for eminent domain authority as an interurban electric railway.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled today by a vote of 5 to 3 that the embattled Texas Central high-speed rail project has eminent domain authority under Texas law.

Justices Huddle, Devine, and Blacklock dissented from the majority opinion. Justice Jane Bland did not participate in the ruling.

The case was brought by James Miles, who owns 600 acres of land along the proposed route. It turned on whether Texas Central qualified for eminent domain authority as an “interurban electric railway” under Texas Transportation Code Chapter 131, upholding the 13th Court of Appeals ruling in 2020.

In an opinion authored by Justice Debra Lehrmann, the court acknowledged that eminent domain authority is an “extraordinary intrusion on private property rights.” It also stated that its opinion was not a reflection on whether a high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston was “a good idea.”

However, it found that in reading the plain language of the interurban electric railway statute, Texas Central qualifies.

Click here to read the entire article.

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The Washington Times - - By Randy Scofield

The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress and enacted by President Joe Biden in November 2021 offers our nation the opportunity to focus on meritorious projects that can and should be built. To do this right, and prevent wasting precious taxpayer dollars, it is important that federal, state and local governmental entities coordinate with key federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation, EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Railroad Administration to devise a uniform scoring system for all proposed infrastructure projects.

The scoring criteria used should include commonsense categories such as the number of citizens served, the feasibility of financing construction, compliance with federal social justice and climate policy priorities, and full compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Environmental Impact Statement for any new infrastructure project must openly share all information during the planning process to allow and ensure extensive public input so that projects can survive inevitable challenges in federal court. A failed infrastructure project in Texas makes clear why such a scoring system is essential to good governance.

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