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Police and Emergency Powers: Limits on Property Rights, Scope of Authority, Takings, and Compensation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide attorneys responding to or defending emergency government actions that impact private property and liberty interests. Police powers to respond to public crises are broad but not limitless. Attorneys representing local government should anticipate challenges against local governments that allegedly overreach their authority.


State and local governments under government police powers in time of emergency are taking unprecedented actions to protect people and property in response to the worldwide health crisis and civil unrest. Enforcing emergency measures is a difficult task, and many businesses and individuals are challenging their legitimacy and enforceability through disobedience and litigation, including class actions. Counsel must understand the scope of emergency powers and be prepared to defend local governments from lawsuits.

Furthermore, if a city or county has exceeded the scope of its authority, it may in certain circumstances be subject to claims of compensation from affected parties. Laws against raising or changing rent, evictions, and foreclosures and requiring loan forbearances and businesses to close can result in claims of compensable takings. Governments must also bear in mind the impact of such restrictions on sources of government revenue.

When the government places restrictions and requirements on people, different due process concerns and questions arise. These regulations and orders are generally subject to a deferential review, and counsel will need to advise government officials about which interests are subject to greater scrutiny and how to avoid costly mistakes.

Listen as this experienced panel discusses emergency and police powers in times of crisis, determining when the scope of authority is excessive, and responding to legal challenges to government authority.



  1. Overview of police powers of local governments in crisis
    1. Health and welfare
    2. Civil order
    3. Impact of state mandates on local governments
  2. Regulatory takings
  3. Defending government conduct
    1. Property
    2. Personal restrictions
  4. Best practices to avoid overreaching


The panel will review these and other issues:

  • How far can the police power be stretched to protect the public?
  • When does the diminution of existing property rights require compensation?
  • Can local governments respond to a crisis without delegated authority or in defiance of state mandates?
  • What rights do property owners/landlords/tenants have to privately respond in times of crisis?


Campbell, Scott
Scott H. Campbell

Best Best & Krieger

Mr. Campbell is city attorney for the City of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island and general counsel for the Gold Coast...  |  Read More

Jarret, Joe
Joe Jarret

Lecturer, Attorney, Federal District Court Mediator and Arbitrator
The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Mr. Jarret is a Tennessee Attorney, Federal District Court Mediator, and Arbitrator, and Rule 31 Listed Civil...  |  Read More

Thomas, Robert
Robert H. Thomas

Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert

Mr. Thomas is a land use and appellate lawyer, and focuses on regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and...  |  Read More

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