JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
In 1971 the Indiana Legislature enacted a statue providing that served mineral interest that in not used for a period of 20 years automatically lapses and reverts to the current surface owner of the property, unless the mineral owner, files a statement of claim in the local county recorder's office.
As the Indiana Supreme Court explained, the Mineral Lapse Act "puts an end to interests in coal, oil, gas or other minerals which have not been used for twenty years."
The "use" of a mineral interest
The statute does not require that any specific notice be given to a mineral owner prior to a statutory lapse of a mineral estate. The Act does set forth a procedure, however, by which a surface owner who has succeeded to the ownership of a mineral estate pursuant to the statute may give notice that the mineral interest has lapsed.
In No. 80-1018, the severed mineral estate was created on March 1, 1954. On the date, appellants Pond and Bobe conveyed land to appellees by a warranty deed that contained a reservation of the mineral estate. On June 17, 1976, Pond and Bobe executed a coal mining lease with appellant Consolidated Coal Co. The parties stipulated that, for a 20-year
In each case it is agreed that if the statue is valid, appellants' mineral interests have lapsed because of their failure to produce minerals, pay taxes, or file a statement of claim within the statutory period. In neither case does the agreed statement of facts indicate whether any of the appellants was aware of the enactment of the Mineral Lapse Act, or of its possible effect on his mineral interests, at any time after the enactment of the statute and before the appellees published notice of the lapse of the mineral estates.
At all stages of the proceedings, appellants challenged the constitutionality of the Dormant Mineral Interests Act. Appellants claimed that the lack of prior notice of the lapse of their mineral rights deprived them of property without due process of law, that the statute effected a taking of private property for public use without just compensation, and that the exception contained in the Act for owners of 10 or more mineral interests denied them the equal protection of the law; appellants based these arguments on the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
On appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed. The court first explained the purpose of the Mineral Lapse Act:
The court rejected the argument that a lapse of a vested mineral interest could not occur without affording the mineral owner prior notice and an opportunity to be heard. The court noted that "[p]rior to any extinguishment the owner of an interest will have had notice by reason of the enactment itself of the conditions which would give rise to an extinguishment and at a minimum a two-year opportunity to prevent those conditions from occurring by filing a statement of
Appellants raise several specific challenges to the constitutionality of the Mineral Lapse Act. Before addressing these arguments, however, it is appropriate to consider whether the State has the power to provide that property rights of this character shall be extinguished if their owners do not take the affirmative action required by the State.
In Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, the Court stated:
The State of Indiana has defined a severed mineral estate as a "vested property interest," entitled to "the same protection
From an early time, this Court has recognized that States have the power to permit unused or abandoned interests in property to revert to another after the passage of time. In Hawkins v. Barney's Lessee, 5 Pet. 457, the Court upheld a Kentucky statute that prevented a landowner from recovering property on which the defendant had resided for more than seven years under a claim of right. The Court stated:
The Indiana statute is similar in operation to a typical recording statute. Such statutes provide that a valid transfer of property may be defeated by a subsequent purported transfer if the earlier transfer is not properly recorded. In Jackson v. Lamphire, 3 Pet. 280, the Court upheld such a statute, even as retroactively applied to a deed that need not have been recorded at the time delivered. The Court stated:
These decisions clearly establish that the State of Indiana has the power to enact the kind of legislation at issue. In each case, the Court upheld the power of the State to condition the retention of a property right upon the performance of an act within a limited period of time. In each instance, as a result of the failure of the property owner to perform the statutory condition, an interest in fee was deemed as a matter of law to be abandoned and to lapse.
It is also clear that the State has not exercised this power in an arbitrary manner. The Indiana statute provides that a severed mineral interest shall not terminate if its owner takes any one of three steps of establish his continuing interest in the property. If the owner engages in actual production, or collects rents or royalties from another person who does or proposes to do so, his interest is protected. If the owner pays taxes, no matter how small, the interest is secure. If the owner files a written statement of claim in the county recorder's office, the interest remains viable. Only if none of these actions is taken for a period of 20 years does a mineral interest lapse and revert to the surface owner.
Each of the actions required by the State to avoid an abandonment of a mineral estate furthers a legitimate state goal. Certainly the State may encourage owners of mineral interests to develop the potential of those interests; similarly, the fiscal interest in collecting property taxes is manifest. The requirement that a mineral owner file a public statement of claim furthers both of these goals by facilitating the identification and location of mineral owners, from whom developers may acquire operating rights and from whom the county may collect taxes. The State surely has the power to condition
Two of appellants' arguments may be answered quickly. Appellants contend that the Mineral Lapse Act takes private property without just compensation in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; they also argue that the statute constitutes an impermissible impairment of contracts in violation of the Contract Clause. The authorities already discussed mandate rejection of each of these arguments.
In ruling that private property may be deemed to be abandoned and to lapse upon the failure to its owner to take reasonable actions imposed by law, this Court has never required the State to compensate the owner for the consequences of his own neglect. We have concluded that the State may treat a mineral interest that has not been used for 20 years and for which no statement of claim has been filed as abandoned; it follows that, after abandonment, the former owner retains no interest for which he may claim compensation. It is the owner's failure to make any use of the property — and not the action of the State — the causes the lapse of the property right; there is no "taking" that requires compensation. The requirement that an owner of a property interest that has not been used for 20 years must come forward and file a current statement of claim is not itself a "taking."
Appellants' primary attack on the Dormant Mineral Interests Act is that it extinguished their property rights without adequate notice. In advancing this argument, appellants actually assert two quite different claims. First, appellants argue that the State of Indiana did not adequately notify them of the legal requirements of the new statute. Second, appellants argue that mineral interest may not be extinguished unless the surface owner gives the mineral owner advance notice that the 20-year period of nonuse is about to expire. When these two arguments are considered separately, it is clear that neither has merit.
The first question raised is simply how a legislature must go about advising its citizens of actions that must be taken to avoid a valid rule of law that a mineral interest that has not been used for 20 years will be deemed to be abandoned. The answer to this question is no different from that posed for any
It is also settled that the question whether a statutory grace period provides an adequate opportunity for citizens to become familiar with a new law is a matter on which the Court shows the greatest deference to the judgment of state legislatures. See Jackson v. Lamphire, 3 Pet., at 290; Wilson v. Iseminger, 185 U. S., at 62-63. A legislative body is in a far better position than a court to form a correct judgment concerning the number of persons affected by a change in the law, the means by which information concerning the law in disseminated in the community, and the likelihood that innocent persons may be harmed by the failure to receive adequate notice.
In short, both the Indiana Legislature and the Indiana Supreme Court have concluded that a 2-year period was sufficient
We have concluded that appellants may be presumed to have had knowledge of the terms of the Dormant Mineral Interests Act. Specifically, they are presumed to have known that an unused mineral interest would lapse unless they filed a statement of claim. The question then presented is whether, given that knowledge, appellants had a constitutional right to be advised — presumably by the surface owner — that their 20-year period of nonuse was about to expire.
In answering this question, it is essential to recognize the difference between the self-executing feature of the statute and a subsequent judicial determination that a particular lapse did in fact occur. As noted by appellants, no specific notice need be given of an impending lapse. If there has
Appellants place primary reliance on our decision in Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306. In that case the Court considered the constitutional sufficiency of notice given to the beneficiaries of a common trust fund of a judicial settlement of accounts by the trustee of the fund. The Court held that the notice by publication authorized by the relevant New York statute was not sufficient, since it was not reasonably calculated to apprise the beneficiaries of the pendency of the judicial proceeding. Justice Jackson, writing for the Court, stated:
Specifically, the Court held that "[a]n elementary and fundamental requirement of due process in any proceeding which is to be accorded finality is notice reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections,," id., at 314; the notice in Mullane was deficient "not because in fact it fail[ed] to reach everyone,
The reasoning in Mullane is applicable to a judicial proceeding brought to determine whether a lapse of a mineral estate did or did not occur, but not to the self-executing feature of the Mineral Lapse Act. The due process standards of Mullane apply to an "adjudication" that is "to be accorded finality." The Court in Mullane itself distinguished the situation in which a State enacted a general rule of law governing the abandonment of property.
As emphasized above, appellants do not challenge the sufficiency of the notice that must be given prior to an adjudication purporting to determine that a mineral interest has not been used for 20-years. Appellants simply claim that the absence of specific notice prior to the lapse of a mineral right renders ineffective the self-executing feature of the Indiana statute. That claim has no greater force than a claim that a self-executing statute of limitations is unconstitutional. The Due Process Clause does not require a defendant to notify a potential plaintiff that a statue of limitations is about to run, although it certainly would preclude him from obtaining a declaratory judgment that his adversary's claim is barred without giving notice of that proceeding.
Appellants also rely on a series of cases that have required specific notice and an opportunity to be heard before a driver's license is suspended for failure to post security after an accident,
The Indiana statute allows a mineral owner to retain an interest, notwithstanding a failure to file a statement of claim within the statutory period, if he satisfies four specific conditions: (1) he must own at least 10 mineral interests in the county; (2) he must have made a diligent effort to preserve all his interests and have succeeded is preserving some; (3) his failure to preserve the interest in question must have been
There is nothing in the records to tell us how often, if ever, this statutory exception has been invoked. Nor do the records indicate the number of persons who own 10 or more interests in any one county in Indiana. Since mineral interests may be bought and sold like other property, and often have little value, the composition of the class benefited by this exception is subject to constant change. Unlike those classes that are defined by personal characteristics, anyone who purchases 10 fractional mineral interests in the same county, of whatever value, can join this favored class.
Although appellants do not suggest that they are financially unable to join the special class, or that its existence has any adverse impact on their own rights — or indeed that excision of the exception from the Act would provide them with any benefit whatsoever — they nevertheless argue that it is basically unfair to treat owners of multiple interests more favorably than they are treated. The Indiana Supreme Court has explained, however, that the State has an interest in encouraging the assembly of multiple interests in a single ownership because such owners are more likely to be able to engage in the actual production of mineral resources.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of Indiana is affirmed.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom JUSTICE WHITE, JUSTICE MARSHALL, and JUSTICE POWELL join, dissenting.
There is no measurable dispute in these cases concerning Indiana's power to control, define, and limit interests in land within its boundaries. Nor is there any question that Indiana has a legitimate interest in encouraging the productive use of land by establishing a registration system to identify the owners of mineral rights. Nor indeed is there any question that extinguishment of a mineral owner's rights may be an appropriate sanction for a failure to register., The question presented here is simply whether the State of Indiana has deprived these appellants of due process of law by extinguishing their pre-existing property interests without regard to whether they knew, and without providing any meaningful mechanism by which they might have learned, of the imminent taking of their property or their obligations under the law.
The State of Indiana has historically afforded owners of incorporeal interests in minerals all the protections and privileges enjoyed by any owner of an estate in land held in fee simple. The mineral interests of the appellants here were thus assuredly within the scope of the dual constitutional guarantees that there be no taking of property without just
If Indiana were by simple fiat to "extinguish" all preexisting mineral interests in the State, or to transfer those interests to itself, to surface owners, or indeed to anyone at all, that action would surely be unconstitutional and unenforceable — at least absent just compensating. That is not the case here for, as the Court points out, ante, at 529, 531, the State has offered the owner of a mineral interest several options by which he may preserve his interest, and a grace period in which he may do so. Because the State has provided these options, the Court concludes that there has been no unconstitutional deprivation of property: "It is the owner's failure to make any use of the property — and not the action of the State — that causes the lapse of the property right . . . ." Ante, at 530. The Court disdains any serious consideration of whether the saving options afforded by the State are in any meaningful way within the reach of the mineral interest owners.
There is much to be said for the maxim upon which the Court places its principal reliance in upholding the retrospective application of this statue: that each citizen may be
Thus, we have recognized certain very limited circumstances in which a Sate's reliance on the maxim that a man may be presumed to know the law is not consistent with the restrictions imposed by the Constitution on legislative action. In Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225 (1957), a municipal ordinance made it an offense for any convicted felon to remain in the city of Los Angeles for more than five days without registering with the police. We held that the ordinance, which purported to deprive a person of liberty for failing to register, could not be applied to a person who neither knew, nor could reasonably have been expected to know, of his legal obligation. As we noted:
There is, of course, no general requirement that a State take affirmative steps to inform its citizenry of their obligations under a particular statute before imposing legal sanctions for violation of that statute. Lambert suggests no such general requirement. Rather, that case highlights the limited circumstances in which the State's reliance on a presumption of knowledge strains the constitutional requirement that the liberty and property of persons be dealt with fairly and rationally by the State. The State's power to impose sanctions on individuals is to be tested in part against the rationality of the proposition that those individuals were
The opinion of the Court suggests that the presumption of knowledge of the law is not unreasonable in cases such as these because it is a customary feature of property ownership that the landowner monitor the Acts of the legislature that may affect his interest. Ante, at 532. The Court would appear to treat property owners as businessmen, of whom we do indeed expect the greatest attentiveness to regulatory obligations in the conduct of their business affairs. But neither our cases nor our experience supports the Court's supposition about the diligence reasonably expected of property owners. Property owners have historically been allowed to rest easy in the knowledge that their holding is secure, absent some affirmative indication to the contrary; to rely on the general practice that "[n]otice is required before property interests are disturbed, before assessments are made, before penalties are assessed. Notice is required in a myriad of situations where a penalty or forfeiture might be suffered for mere failure
The Constitution does, of course, permit the interests of a property owner to be adversely affected upon notice less exacting than those mechanisms of notification deemed minimally acceptable in other contexts. But the rationale for this standard of "lesser notice" with respect to matters involving land bears restating for the contrast that it presents with the circumstances of these cases:
It may be reasonable to expect property owners to maintain sufficient awareness of their property to mark those situations in which the property is physically disturbed with some scrutiny of their duties and obligations under the law. The owners of the incorporeal interest at issue here are
The Court also relies on cases involving the application of legislatively foreshortened limitations periods to causes of actions that have already vested. Ante, at 532. But those case illustrate, rather than refute, the constitutional principle that reliance on the maxim of presumed knowledge of the law is limited by the reasonableness of applying that maxim in a particular class of cases. The Court has upheld retroactive adjustments to a limitations period only when the legislature has provided a grace period during which the potential plaintiff could reasonably be expected to learn of the change in the law and then initiate his action. In the context of a retrospective statute of limitations, a reasonable grace period provides an adequate guarantee of fairness. Having suffered the triggering event of an injury, a potential plaintiff is likely to possess a heightened alertness to the possibly changing requirements of the law bearing on his claim. Because redress necessarily depends on recourse to the State's judicial system, the State is free to condition its intervention on rules of procedure, and further, to impose on the potential plaintiff the obligation to monitor changes in those rules. Plaintiffs, and their attorneys, are so aware.
The situation of appellants here is not at all similar. The statute does not operate upon the dormant mineral interest owner after he has suffered some direct affront to his property such that he might reasonably be called upon to increase
This does not end the inquiry, for the State may have an identifiable interest in not making provision for notice in a particular circumstance. If there were such an interest, the Constitution would not lightly supplant the legislative judgment. I thus turn to the asserted interests of the State in the procedure established here.
It is plain that that sheer impracticality makes it implausible to expect the State itself to apprise its citizenry of the enactment of a statute of general applicability. The State may, however, feasibly provide notice when it asserts an interest directly adverse to particular persons, and may in the circumstance be constitutionally compelled to do so. That is not the situation presented in these cases, for the mineral interest owner's failure to comply with the statute results in neither a fine nor an escheat. Rather, his interest is effectively transferred to the surface owner. While the State is not disinterested, as a policy matter, in whether the mineral interest owner files a notice of claim, it sanctions a failure to comply by adjusting the relative rights of the mineral interest owner as against another citizen. In this context it is
First, statutes of limitations "are partial and pragmatic devices to spare the courts from litigation of stale claims, and the citizen from being put to his defense after memories have faded, witnesses have died or disappeared, and evidence has been lost." Chase Securities Crop. v. Donaldson, 325 U.S. 304, 314 (1945). The very interest asserted by the State in imposing a statute of limitations — avoiding trial of stale claims — would be defeated by extending the time in which the plaintiff may bring his suit until such time as he may learn of the existence of the statue or the fact that it may soon run. In addition, with respect of statutes of limitations, pre-expiration notice is, as a practical matter, impossible: The potential defendant may not be aware of the potential plaintiff's injury, let alone the plaintiff's future intention to sue. Under these circumstances the potential defendant cannot be expected to monitor the law on behalf of his future — perhaps unknown — adversary. In sum, a State need not make provision for notice with respect to the retroactive application of a statute where it would defeat a legitimate State interest, or would be infeasible in the context of the statutory scheme.
In these case, Indiana asserts an interest in ensuring the productive use of land within its boundaries, and particularly in promoting the exploitation of land containing energy resources such as coal, gas, and oil. The existence of stale and abandoned mineral interests impedes the development of those mineral resources, and hinders the development of the surface as well, by preventing the willing buyer from making contact with a willing seller. To facilitate the operation of the market with respect to mineral development, Indiana has required, by the statute at issue here, that the mineral interest owner file a statement of his claim once every 20 years, or suffer extinguishment of his unused interest. This minimal burden on the mineral rights owner is intended to ensure that
It is difficult to conceive how the State's interest is served by not requiring the surface owner to notify the mineral rights owner before taking title to his interest; I do not understand either the private appellees, or the State of Indiana as intervener, to identify and affirmative state interest in failing to provide for pre-extinguishment notice. It might be supposed that a requirement of pre-extinguishment notice by the surface owner would present an untoward economic burden on the surface owner that would impede the purposes of the statute or would otherwise be inconsistent with the statutory framework. But it is plain on the face of the statute that this is not so.
Although the statute is self-executing as to one class of mineral interest owners, notice is required before the interests of another class of mineral interest owners are terminated. If the mineral interest owner is one who owns 10 mineral interests in the county and has made diligent effort to preserve his interest, and his failure to preserve is inadvertent, he is afforded the opportunity to file a statement of claim "within sixty (60) days after publication of notice as
Because no surface property owner could claim clear title to the mineral interest absent such notice — or else a potential purchaser would suffer the possibility that some holder of 10
In the exercise of a State's police powers, and perhaps particularly with respect to matters involving the regulation of land, we owe the judgments of state legislature great deference. Nevertheless, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to guard owners of property from the wholly arbitrary actions of state governments. As applied retrospectively to extinguish the rights of mineral interest owners for their failure to have made use of their interests within a prior 20-year period, Indiana's statutory scheme would likely effect an unlawful taking of property absent the proviso that such mineral interest owners could preserve their rights by filing a notice of claim within the 2-year grace period. Given the nature of the scheme established, there is no discernible basis for failing to afford those owners such notice as would make the saving proviso meaningful. As applied to mineral interest owners who were without knowledge of their legal obligations, and who were not permitted to file a saving statement of claim within some period following the giving of statutory notice by the surface owner, the statute operates unconstitutionally. In my view, under these circumstances, the provision of no process simply cannot be deemed due process of law. I respectfully dissent.
"Interests or estates in oil, gas, coal and other minerals lying beneath the surface of the land are interests in real estate for our purposes here, and as such are entitled beyond question to the firmest protection of the Constitution from irrational state action. They are vested property interests separate and distinct from the surface ownership. The State has no power to deprive an owner of such an interest without due process of law. They are entitled to the same protection as are fee simple titles. They are themselves of great utility and benefit to the society as a means of facilitating the development of natural resources." ___ Ind., at ___, 406 N. E. 2d, at 627.
"1) was at the time of the expiration of the period provided in section four, the owner of ten or more mineral interests, as above defined, in the county in which such mineral interest is located, and;
"2) made diligent effort to preserve all of such interests as were not being used, and did within a period of ten years prior to the expiration of the period provided in section 4 preserve other mineral interests, in said county, by the filing of statements of claim as herein required, and;
"3) failed to preserve such interest through inadvertence, and:
"4) filed the statement of claim herein required, within sixty (60) days after publication of notice as provided in section seven herein [sic], if such notice is published, and if no such notice is published, within sixty (60) days after receiving actual knowledge that such mineral interest had lapsed." Ind. Code § 32-5-11-5 (1976).
"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The Fifth Amendment prohibition against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation applies against the State through the Fourteenth Amendment. Webb's Fabulous Pharmacies, Inc. v. Beckwith, 449 U.S. 155, 160.
The court also rejected an argument that the statute effected a taking without compensation in violation of the State Constitution and state eminent domain theory, on the ground that the State did not acquire the mineral interests for its own use and benefit. The court emphasized that the Mineral Lapse Act does not "involved the injury to private property through conduct or activities of governmental agents or others having an exercising the power of eminent domain"; rather, the statute declares that "a lapse of a mineral interest will occur in the event of specified conditions and circumstances." Id., at ___, 406 N. E. 2d, at 631.
"It is argued, that limitation laws, although belonging to the lex fori, and applying immediately to the remedy, yet indirectly they effect a complete divesture and even transfer of right. This is unquestionably true, and yet in no wise fatal to the validity of this law. The right to appropriate a derelict is one of universal law, well known to the civil law, the common law, and to all law: it existed in a state of nature, and is only modified by society, according to the discretion of each community. What is the evidence of an individual having abandoned his rights or property? It is clear that the subject is one over which every community is at liberty to make a rule for itself . . . ." 5 Pet., at 467.
After observing that "the state of Kentucky has established the rule of seven years negligence to pursue a remedy," the Court noted that such a period was not unprecedented. The Court stated:
"In the early settlement of the country, the man who received a grant of land an failed, at first in three, and afterwards in five years, to seat and improve it, was held to have abandoned it: it received the denomination of lapsed land, was declared to be forfeited (Mercer's Abr.); and any one might take out a grant for it." Id., at 467-468 (emphasis added).
"It is defined to be a rent reserved to himself and his heirs by the grantor of land, out of the land itself. It is not granted like an annuity or rent charge, but is reserved out of a conveyance of the land in fee. It is a separate estate from the ownership of the ground, and is held to be real estate, with the usual characteristics of an estate in fee simple, descendible, devisable, alienable." 185 U. S., at 59.
"It may be properly conceded that all statutes of limitation must proceed on the idea that the party has full opportunity afforded him to try his right in the courts. A statute could not bar the existing rights of claimants without affording this opportunity; if it should attempt to do so, it would not be a statute of limitations, but an unlawful attempt to extinguish rights arbitrarily, whatever might be the purport of its provisions. It is essential that such statutes allow a reasonable time after they take effect for the commencement of suits upon existing cause of action; though what shall be considered a reasonable time must be settled by the judgment of the legislature, and the courts will not inquire into the wisdom of its decision in establishing the period of legal bar, unless the time allowed is manifestly so insufficient that the statute becomes a denial of justice." Id., at 62-63.
The Court in Iseminger, id., at 63, repeated the statement of Chief Justice Waite in Terry v. Anderson, 95 U.S. 628, 632-633, that "[t]his court has often decided that statutes of limitation affecting existing rights are not unconstitutional, if a reasonable time is given for the commencement of an action before the bar takes effect."
"It will not do to say that the case is merely one of conflict of two private interests and that the misfortune of apple growers may not be shifted to cedar owners by ordering the destruction of their property, for it is obvious that there may be, and that here there is, a preponderant public concern in the preservation of one interest over the other. And where the public interest in involved preferment of that interest over the property interest of the individual, to the extend even of its destruction, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of every exercise of the police power which affects property." Id., at 279-280 (citations omitted).
"All persons are charged with knowledge of the provisions of statutes and must tale note of the procedure adopted by them; and when that procedure is not unreasonable or arbitrary there are no constitutional limitations relieving them from conforming to it. This is especially the case with respect to those statutes relating to the taxation or condemnation of land. Such statutes are universally in force and are general in their application, facts of which the land owner must take account in providing for the management of his property and safeguarding his interest in it."
See also Anderson National Bank v. Luckett, 321 U.S. 233, 243.
The Court in Mullane emphasized that "[i]n the case before us there is, of course, no abandonment." Ibid.
The dissent attempts to distinguish Mullane on the ground that, unlike the tangible interests that the Court in that case stated could be subject to an assumption of abandonment, the present case concern "incorporeal interests" that have not been "directly attacked, sized, possessed, used, or depleted." Post, at 548, 549. We do not believe, however, that the State's assumption of abandonment in these cases is improper. As the Indiana Supreme Court described, interests or estates in oil, gas, coal, and other minerals lying beneath the surface of the land are "interests in real estate," ___ Ind., at ___, 406 N. E. 2d, at 627; oil, gas, coal, and other minerals are tangible interests that may be used and developed by a mineral owner. Moreover, the length of the period that is afforded to a mineral owner to use the interest, the variety and minimal extent of the actions that constitute a statutory use, and the length of the statutory grace period are sufficient to entitle the State to indulge in the assumption that — if no statutory use is made in a 20-year period and no statement of claim is filed in the 2-year grace period, if applicable — the mineral owner has abandoned the property. We need not decide today whether the State may indulge in a similar assumption in cases in which the statutory period of nonuse is shorter than that involved here, or in which the interest affected is such that concepts of "use" or "nonuse" have little meaning.
"The main thrust of Georgia's argument is that it need not provide a hearing on liability because fault and liability are irrelevant to the statutory scheme. We may assume that were this so, the prior administrative hearing presently provided by the State would be `appropriate to the nature of the case.' Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950). but `[i]n reviewing state action in the area . . . we look to substance, not to bare form, to determine whether constitutional minimums have been honored.' Willner v. Committee on Character, 373 U.S. 96, 106-107 (1963) (concurring opinion). And looking to the operation of the State's statutory scheme, it is clear that liability, in the sense of an ultimate judicial determination of responsibility, plays a crucial role in the Safety Responsibility Act." 402 U. S., at 541 (emphasis supplied).
"We believe that actual knowledge of the duty to register or proof of the probability of such knowledge and subsequent failure to comply are necessary before a conviction under the ordinance can stand. As Holmes wrote in The Common Law, `A law which punished conduct which would not be blameworthy in the average members of the community would be too severe for that community to bear.,' " 335 U. S., at 229.
Lambert concerns the mens rea that is necessary before the State may convict an individual of crime. See United States v. Freed, 401 U.S. 601; United States v. International Minerals & Chemical Corp., 402 U.S. 558. Its application has been limited, lending some credence to Justice Frankfurter's colorful prediction in dissent that the case would stand as "an isolated deviation from the strong current of precedents — a derelict on the waters of the law." 355 U. S., at 232.
"Any interest in coal, oil, gas, and other minerals, shall, if unused for a period of 20 years, be extinguished, unless a statement of claim is filed in accordance with section five [32-5-11-5] hereof, and the ownership shall revert to the then owner of the interest out of which it was carved."
A mineral interest is deemed "used" for the purposes of the statute
"when there are any minerals produced thereunder or when operations are being conducted thereon for injection, withdrawal, storage or disposal of water, gas or other fluid substances, or when rentals or royalties are being paid by the owner thereof for the purpose of delaying or enjoying the use or exercise of such rights or when any such use is being carried out on any tract with which such mineral interest may be unitized or pooled for production purposes, or when, in the case of coal or other solid minerals, there is production from a common vein or seam by the owners of such mineral interests, or when taxes are paid on such mineral interest by the owner thereof. Any use pursuant to or authorized by the instrument creating such mineral interest shall be effective to continue in force all rights granted by such instrument." Ind. Code § 32-55-11-3 (1976).
With respect to the statement of claim, the statue specifies the relevant time limits:
"The statement of claim provided in section one above [32-5-11-1] shall be filed by the owner of the mineral interest prior to the end of the twenty year period set forth in section two [one] [31-5-11-1] or within two years after the effective date [September 2, 1971] of this act, whichever is later, and shall contain the name and address of the owner of such interest, and description of the land, on or under which such mineral interest is located. Such statement of claim shall be filed in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in the county in which such land is located. Upon the filing of the statement of claim within the time provided, it shall be deemed that such mineral interest was being used on the date the statement of claim was filed." Ind. Code § 32-5-11-4 (1976).
"The time and manner of their operation,the exceptions to them, and the acts from which the time limited shall begin to run, will generally depend on the sound discretion of the legislature, according to the nature of the titles, the situation of the country, and the emergency which leads to their enactment. Cases may occur where the provisions of a law on those subjects may be so unreasonable as to amount to a denial of a right, and call for the interposition of the court; but the present is not one." Id., at 290 (emphasis added).
It is not at all surprising that we did not find that exercise of legislative authority in Jackson v. Lamphire unreasonable. In 1797, the New York Legislature established a Commission to settle competing claims to land within a particular county. The New York Act provided a 2-year period, following the action of the Commission, in which any party adversely affected might dissent and preserve his right to recover his title. Id., at 282-283. In addition, before the Commission could act, the New York legislation required precisely those forms of notice that appellants in these cases complain are lacking in the Indiana statute. The Commission was expressly charged with the responsibility of notifying the populace that it was convening to resolve disputes concerning land within the county. Id., at 283. The New York Act further provided that
"in all case where there are filed or recorded . . . two or more deeds from one and the same person, or in the same right to different persons, if any person interested under either of them shall neglect to make his claim, and in all cases where several persons appear to have claims to one and the some piece of land, and any of them do not appear before the said commissioners, they shall cause a notice to be published in the newspapers aforesaid, and continued for six weeks, requiring all persons interested in such land to appear at a certain time and place therein mentioned, not less than six months from the date of such notice, and exhibit their claims to the same land." Id., at 284 (emphasis added).
If the Indiana statute at issue in these cases provided a 2-year period in which mineral interest owners could assert their interests, following notice by publication, as provided in the New York Act at issue in Jackson v. Lamphire, I would readily agree that the Indiana statute was reasonable even as applied to existing mineral interests. Absent such notice, the 2-year grace period provided by Indiana is constitutionally meaningless.