If the government has to pay out thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees for behavior it cannot predict then we are wasting tax money. Sure the individual taxpayer wins, but the rest of the taxpayers lose. We need an honest system, but penalizing the government for acting in good-faith may not be the best answer. If a jury or judge finds a valuation to be excessive, the value should be reduced and any taxes paid should be refunded. Forcing the government to deplete its resources by paying attorneys fees for acting in a reasonable manner hurts all taxpayers and does little to correct bad behavior.
While the Supreme Court cleared the way for Mapache to challenge title, it still must produce legible documents that clearly show the marshlands and tidelands were conveyed by the Crown. Back in 2006, the Georgia Supreme Court heard a similar case. In Black v. Floyd, the judgement of the lower court was affirmed by the Supreme Court because the landowners could not clearly show the property was conveyed by the crown. They had the documents, but they were so illegible that as a matter of law the court was able to rule for the State of Georgia. The landowners stated that the documents instructed the grantee to drain swamp and marsh “if any such contain herein.” The Court, though, said that even if the documents did say that, it wouldn’t be enough to show that the Crown clearly intended to convey tidewaters.
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