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Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan is an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center and professor of law at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. He received his J.D. from Cornell Law School (1998), where he was a John M. Olin Scholar in Law and Economics and managing editor of the Cornell International Law Journal. He also served as editor and executive editor of Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy symposium issues in 1997 and 1998. He received his B.A. from Western Michigan University (1995), with majors in political science and philosophy.

After completing law school, Kochan was law clerk to The Hon. Richard F. Suhrheinrich of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He previously taught at the University of Virginia School of Law and George Mason University School of Law. Prior to that he was in private practice at the firm of Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in Natural Resources & Environmental Law. 

He is the author of numerous published articles on subjects including property rights, environmental law, natural resources issues, international law and human rights, historic preservation, tort reform, and various issues of law and economics and constitutional law.

From Donald J. Kochan

Property Rights, Condemnation, and Special Interests

Taking property from families to flip to commercial developers is a great way to generate increased property tax revenues and future campaign contributions. Of course, this scam makes a mockery of private property rights. Main text word count: 790 … more

Public-Private “Land Exchanges” Could Help Resolve Property Rights Disputes

When government is free to put up barriers to development and make property owners bear the cost, its ability to infringe on private property rights is unchecked. … more

Government "Condemnation" Power Makes Property Rights Less Secure

Government abuse of its so-called condemnation power has unjustly deprived ordinary citizens of their private property for the benefit of big-league developers. … more

Fighting Urban Blight or Trashing Property Rights?

A proposal to fight "urban blight" by enhancing the government's power to confiscate private property is a bad idea. … more

Reforming Property Forfeiture Laws to Protect Citizens’ Rights

The Framers of the United States Constitution understood that freedom depends upon the vigorous protection of private property rights and that this protection was therefore the most sacred obligation of government. However, despite Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, recent years have witnessed a massive expansion of a legal practice known as "asset forfeiture," which allows government to violate the very property rights it is charged with protecting. Hundreds of asset forfeiture laws-many of them intended to stop illegal drug trafficking-give state and federal law enforcement agents the power to seize property even without proof of the owners' guilt in a criminal trial because, in many cases, the government considers the property itself to be the criminal. This study recommends nine reforms that will help guarantee that Michigan citizens enjoy the benefits of private property rights, limited government, and individual liberty, and remain protected from unjustified and arbitrary seizure of their personal possessions. … more

Property Doesn't Commit Crimes, People Do

American citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but when government accuses their property of criminal activity, it's a whole new ball game. … more

Reforming the Law of Takings in Michigan

If the state of Michigan takes from a land owner some, but not all, of the use or value of his land, the owner is not entitled to any compensation. This forces a few land owners to bear the entire cost of these takings that are intended to benefit the public as a whole. Many states have initiated reforms that would permit land owners to be more fairly compensated. This study outlines the practice of takings jurisprudence in Michigan, reviews the legislative responses in Michigan and other states, and makes specific recommendations for reform in Michigan. 40 pages. … more

Real Reform in Takings Law

Michigan land owners receive no compensation if the government causes partial, but not total, devaluation of their property. Other states have adopted fairer compensation laws that Michigan should consider. … more

Should Bargains Be Illegal?

When a customer is sued by a former supplier because the customer found a better bargain with another company, whose side does the law tend to support? A Michigan firm finds itself in this situation. … more