Mark F. (Thor) Hearne II, Esq.

Thor Hearne has earned a national reputation for his work in complex federal and state litigation and appeals, especially matters involving property rights, constitutional law and election issues.  Thor has represented more than 1,000 landowners in federal property rights litigation arising under the Trails Act.

Thor was named one of the nation’s top-fifty “Litigation Trailblazers and Pioneers” by the National Law Journal and was also featured in the National Law Journal as a pre-eminent national trial and appellate attorney for his work in property rights litigation.  Thor has been named a “Super Lawyer” in both Washington DC and in Missouri by a peer-rating system, and Thor has been given the highest AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell

Thor was elected to membership in the prestigious, invitation-only Owners’ Counsel of America association of property-rights lawyers.  Only one lawyer from each state and the District of Columbia is admitted to Owners’ Counsel of America, which is an organization of the most distinguished property-rights and eminent domain attorneys in the nation. 

Thor has enjoyed success as the lead counsel in numerous federal and state trials including jury trials and bench trials.  Thor’s courtroom successes have made him a frequent and highly sought-after speaker at national legal conferences, including the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference at William & Mary Law School, where he serves as a member of the Advisory Council.  Thor has spoken internationally at property rights and property law.  Thor addressed international property law and property rights conferences at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing China and the Universiteit Leiden at The Hague in the Netherlands.

For almost a decade Thor has served as a faculty member on the American Law Institute Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference.  Thor was chosen by the judges of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to serve on the Court’s Advisory Council and takings committee.

In similar property rights litigation, Thor represented the Culverhouse family in the precedent-setting decision against the Internal Revenue Service that Thor argued and won in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case involved the IRS’s attempt to challenge the value of that property the Culverhouse family donated for the Culverhouse Nature Park and Community Garden.  The Culverhouse decision established a national precedent favoring property owners who donate property for a conservation easement like the one the Culverhouse family donated to Sarasota.  Hearne is also appellate counsel for property owners in two pending Florida pipeline condemnation cases that will be heard by the Eleventh Circuit this summer.

Those following the Supreme Court’s property rights decisions are familiar with Thor’s experience and work in constitutional and property rights litigation.  Hearne was lead counsel for a number of amici curiae (friends of the court) in several of the Supreme Court’s most consequential property rights decisions.  This includes American Farm Bureau Foundation, Cattleman’s Beef Association, American Land Title Association, Public Lands Council, Southwestern Legal Foundation, Pacific Legal Foundation, Cato Foundation, Montana Farm Bureau Foundation, National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Foundation, National Association of Reversionary Property Owners, Save our Shoreline and property law professors and scholars, James Ely, Jr., Richard Epstein, Dale Whitman and Donald Kochan, among others.  

Thor argued a constitutional challenge to the State of Arizona redistricting statute before the United States Supreme Court and was supported in the argument by Arizona’s Attorney General. Thor has argued other constitutional and property rights challenges before various state supreme courts including the Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Kansas supreme courts and a number of lower appellate courts.  The Commonwealth of Virginia retained Thor to be Virginia’s lead trial and appellate counsel defending Virginia against a constitutional challenge to the commonwealth’s election laws.  Thor and Virginia prevailed in both trial court and with a unanimous decision in favor of Virginia in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.