Sidney Z. Searles, originally from New York, passed away at the age of 92 in Tucson where he lived in retirement for a number of years. Searles was one of the pioneers in the practice of eminent domain law on the property owners’ side and eventually partnered with the late Julius Sackman, author of the modern version of multi-volume treatise Nichols on Eminent Domain.
Searles emerged as planning chairman of well regarded and well attended CLE programs on eminent domain, first for PLI and later for ALI-ABA. Even after he retired from CLE activities, Searles retained an active interest in educating lawyers in this arcane field, and faithfully attended the annual ALI-ABA programs on eminent domain, inverse condemnation and land use until the very end.
Searles came to prominence in 1963 when he authored Bulldozers at Your Door, a Reader’s Digest article that focused public attention on the plight of property owners displaced from their homes and businesses by the rising tide of eminent domain cases. He was the recipient of ALI-ABA’s Harrison Tweed Award for excellence in continued legal education and of the Arthur May Memorial Award of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers. He served on Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s State Commission on Eminent Domain in New York, whose activities led to revision in the New York Eminent Domain Law.
Sidney Z. Searles was throughout a genuine, classic New York character who was passionate about his work that he saw as a way of doing good in life, and of making a contribution to improving the world.