Posted By Richard Schaut on 10/26/2008 at 3:42 PM
of the more serious problems regarding the ability of surveyors to
counsel our clients is, I think, the misunderstanding of the
limitations specified in the 1973 BLM Manual:
From the ’73 Manual:
One additional caution, addressed especially to the surveyor employed
by the Bureau of Land Management, is to bear in mind that his
professional work is technical in character, not legal or judicial. The
surveyor is not a referee as to the justice or injustice of a
situation, nor is he qualified to act judicially upon the equities or
inequities that may appear to be involved.
LIMIT OF AUTHORITY OF SURVEYOR
There are certain questions of a purely judicial nature involved in
resurveys of every description where the decision is to be reserved to
the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, particularly those
relating to compliance with the general laws in respect to the entry of
the public lands. Thus it comes within the realm of the surveying
process to identify and mark out on the ground the various legal
subdivisions of the public domain, but it is a judicial question beyond
the function of the surveyor to determine whether or not specified
lands have been duly earned under a certain entry. In the resurvey
process the surveyor will determine whether or not lands embraced
within a claim as occupied have been correctly related in position to
the original survey. Where the demonstration of this question may be
one involving more or less uncertainty, as is often the case, the
surveyor will examine and weigh the evidence relating strictly to the
surveying problem involved. He will interpret the evidence with respect
to its effect upon the manner in which the resurvey shall be executed
to protect valid rights acquired under the original survey. The
surveyor has no authority to enter into an agreement concerning the
exchange of one subdivision for another or to bind the Bureau of Land
Management in this particular.
There is a good reason to expect the BLM to limit the surveyor's role because the fed. gov't is not bound by state laws.
said, I would expect that the cautions expressed above would not be
necessary unless the private surveyor, in our normal practice, would
not be expected to advise the private citizen who is our client.
'ignorance of the law is no excuse' is one of the foundation principles
of our legal system, it is also understood that the average citizen
cannot know all the details of every area of the law.
certain areas of the law where special consideration of rarely used
knowledge is needed, it is expected that the citizen would be able to
hire experts who do have the requisite knowledge.
Here is where the surveyor must have the knowledge of the law not possessed by lawyers.
key here is our ability to determine the errors in the record
description and what correction method is most suitable for a
How is a surveyor supposed to best assist the land owner to protect their property rights?
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The surveyor's legal responsibility
October 27, 2008