Taken By Storm: Climate Change and Property Takings

Feb. 20, 1:10 pm, Weinmann Hall, Room 251

The US Constitution provides that when the government seizes or regulates private property, they are supposed to pay for it. There are exceptions for public necessity and public protections, but just what are they and how might they apply in times of sea level rise, climate change, and massive wildfires? The courts aren’t quite sure, but this panel will help you understand the state of the law and why it matters.

Thank you to the Graduate Studies Student Association for sponsoring this panel!

CLE: Takings Smith CLE

Justin Pidot, Associate Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

justin-pidot-fullbodyJustin Pidot is an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he teaches courses related to property, administrative, and environmental law. Professor Pidot graduated with a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D, from Stanford Law School. Professor Pidot clerked for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Prior to joining the University of Denver faculty, he was an appellate litigator at the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he presented arguments in more than a dozen federal appellate cases and acted as the staff attorney on two cases before the United States Supreme Court. Professor Pidot also completed a fellowship at the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute. Professor Pidot’s scholarship focuses on environmental law, natural disasters, and federal courts.


Randy Smith, Smith & Fawer



James Gette, Principal Deputy Chief of Natural Resources of ENRD, Department of Justice

James GetteJames D. Gette is the Principal Deputy Chief of the Natural Resources Section within the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) at the United States Department of Justice.  He manages an office of lawyers and support professionals in the Natural Resources Section, which is responsible for a diverse and extensive docket of primarily defensive litigation involving more than eighty statutes, treaties, and the U.S. Constitution.  The Section’s responsibilities include cases in virtually every U.S. district court of the Nation, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and in state courts.  The subject matter involves federal land, resource, and ecosystem management decisions challenged under a wide variety of federal environmental statutes and affecting more than a half-billion acres of federal land (totaling nearly one-quarter of the entire land mass of the United States) and an additional 300 million acres of subsurface mineral interests; vital national security programs involving military preparedness, nuclear materials management, and weapons system research; billions of dollars in constitutional claims of Fifth Amendment takings covering a broad spectrum of Federal activities affecting private property; challenges brought by individual Native Americans and Indian tribes relating to the United States’ trust responsibility; preserving federal water rights; and litigation involving offshore boundary disputes, interstate water compacts, and other issues in Supreme Court original actions in coordination with the Office of the Solicitor General.  The Section’s clients include virtually every major Federal executive branch agency. While at ENRD, Mr. Gette has also served as Acting Chief, Acting Assistant Chief, and Trial Attorney of the Natural Resources Section; and Special Counsel to the Acting Assistant Attorney General.  Before joining ENRD, he was part of the Civil Division’s tobacco litigation trial team.  This historic civil RICO case sought billions of dollars and other relief from the tobacco industry stemming from a decades-long scheme by the industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking, to design its products intentionally to be addictive, and to attract youth smokers.  Mr. Gette is a graduate of the Law School of the University of Chicago.  He began his legal career in private practice with the firm that is today DLA Piper.  Before joining the Department of Justice, he spent several years as an attorney and federal negotiator at the United States Department of Education, and was also the Director of the Office of the President at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.


Mark Davis (moderator), Professor, Tulane Law School; Director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy

Mark DavisMark Davis is a Senior Research Fellow at Tulane University Law School and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. He founded the Institute in 2007 after 14 years as the Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana where he was extensively involved in shaping laws, policies, and programs at the state and federal level dealing the restoration and stewardship of coastal ecosystems.  He also served as General Counsel at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.  He has practiced law in Indianapolis, Washington, DC, and Chicago. He is an adjunct assistant professor of law at Tulane where he teaches water resources law and policy is also an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Law School (New Orleans).  He has also taught at IIT Chicago Kent School of Law and Indiana University’s School of Business in Indianapolis.  He has a JD, with honors, from Indiana University and an MLT from the Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Davis has written and lectured widely on matters related to coastal and water resource management and has testified before White House and Congressional panels on numerous occasions.  He has been recognized for his work with a Louisiana Legend Award from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and an Environmental Hero award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.