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Taos judge voids land grant deed

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State District Judge Sarah Backus on Tuesday voided a deed filed in 2010 that lays claim to 20,000 acres of land north of Taos, a decision expected to allow real estate transactions in the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant to proceed after a more than two-year hiatus, The Taos News reported.

In 2010, the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant Board filed the warranty deed signed by Manuel Ortiz Sr., who appeared to pass ownership of the entire grant to heirs of the grant’s original settlers and to members of the board, The News said.

Since the deed became part of the public record, the deed clouded title to the more than 3,000 properties lying within the historic grant, preventing real estate sales and refinances on the grant because title companies have been unwilling to issue policies without adding an exception, the paper reported.

A civil case was brought by three national title insurers and property owners, who argued that the court should invalidate the deed by explicitly declaring that it represents no real transfer of property, and Backus ruled in their favor, according to The News.

A federal suit involving the board and the same title insurers was dismissed last year when a judge ruled the title companies had no standing to bring litigation, The News said.

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