Damon Key’s Mark M. Murakami Elected as Sole Hawaii Member of Elite Owners’ Counsel of America

Damon Key’s Mark M. Murakami has been elected as the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA), an exclusive association of the nation’s leading eminent domain lawyers. Eminent domain is the legal process by which the government acquires private property for public uses, most often by forcing the owner to sell it. Membership in OCA is by invitation-only, and limited to a single member in each state. Members are selected for their experience and dedication in defending the constitutional rights of private property owners in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings, and other property rights matters.

In 2009, Mark was a key member of the Damon Key legal team which represented a Big Island owner whose family’s land was being seized by eminent domain. In that case, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling limiting the power of the government to take property for pretextual reasons. Currently, Mark represents many of the families and businesses in the path of Honolulu’s rail project, defending their property rights in several multimillion-dollar valuation cases.

“We offer membership only to the leading property rights lawyer in each state,” said OCA’s Executive Director, Leslie Fields. “Not merely those with the experience and knowledge to handle eminent domain and related matters, but those who also have a passion for representing private property owners against all types of incursions on their property rights. Having Mark as OCA’s Hawaii member will make our association better.”

Robert H. Thomas was the Hawaii OCA member prior to Mark. Before his retirement from Damon Key and private practice in 2021, Robert was a land use, property, and appellate attorney who focused on regulatory takings and eminent domain. His move to a mainland-based legal nonprofit firm opened the Hawaii OCA seat. “I cannot think of a better lawyer to become the new OCA member from Hawaii,” Robert noted. “Mark has years of experience in these cases, understands the issues better than anyone I know, and is a leader in protecting property owners and shaping the law of eminent domain both locally and nationally.”

The firm is honored that this prestigious national organization has seen fit to make back-to-back selections of Damon Key attorneys to fill the single membership for Hawaii.