Legal terminology: what IS a condemnation?

 Here’s why laymen like me, otherwise literate, are driven nuts by legal terminology.

What is condemnation? What does it mean? Well, obviously, it’s…but never mind. We’re not talking about the obvious. We’re talking about the legal. We’re talking “condemnee” and “condemnor” and “de jure” and “de facto” (I do know what those last two mean: did this condemnation come from a judge, or was it condemned in fact? That is, somebody else’s fact, because if you, the condemnee, are objecting, it means some damn condemnor just condemned you or your property without getting a legal order or decision saying, OK, you can condemn it, you condemnor you.)

That’s my take, anyway. Here’s the bit of news that inspired it, from the New York Law Journal:

How Much Time Do I Have To File My Condemnation Claim?

Michael Rikon, New York Law Journal 

In his Condemnation and Tax Certiorari column, Michael Rikon discusses the question of how much time a condemnee has to file a condemnation claim, and finds that the answer depends on many variables such as: Who was the condemnor? How did the condemnee learn of the taking? Was the taking de jure or de facto? The author concludes with this take-away: “If a condemnor has taken your property without a formal condemnation, you should move immediately to protect your rights.”

I’m giving us all a break here by yanking my Black’s Law Dictionary off the shelf (don’t worry about muscle strain; it’s a paperback), just to appease my curiosity and gnawing irritation. Although what follows will come with an Uh-Oh:

Condemnation. 1. The act of judicially pronouncing someone guilty; conviction [Uh-oh; this is not what the NYLJ article is referring to]. 2. The determination and declaration that certain property (esp. land) is assigned to public use, subject to reasonable compensation; the exercise of eminent domain by a governmental entity. [There are sub-definitions, too: excess condemnation; inverse condemnation; quick condemnation. I’m leaving these to your vivid imaginations.] 3. An official pronouncement that a thing (such as food or drink) is unfit for use or consumption; the act of making such a pronouncement.

OK, we got through that. Let’s continue:

Condemnee. One whose property is expropriated for public use or taken by a public-works project.

Condemnor. A person or entity that expropriates property for public use.

I’m exhausted and do not have the energy to delve into “tax certiorari.”

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