Op-Ed: A Former Mayor Takes What's Not His in Court

Posted Nov 26, 2007 by KJ Mullins
Don and Susie Kirlin of Boulder, Colorado have been railroaded by an obscure doctrine that gave a former judge part of their land. In 1984 the couple purchased a 55 foot by 80 foot lot. It was to be their future dream house.
They had raised their kids and were finally at a place where they could start living their dreams. It was finally time to start building their little house.
Last year the Kirlins tried to build a fence around their little lot when Richard McLean and Edith Stevens sought a temporary restraining order.
The Kirlins had been warned that someone wanted their lot. Mrs. Kirlin had been told at a local football game to be cautious.
"I laughed when I first heard it. I really didn't know that anyone had an emotional attachment to our land," Kirlin tells me. "I was quite surprised. I was even more surprised that someone could claim our land. But my neighbor told me this was a well- connected person and I should take it seriously."
McLean and Stevens then sued under the principle of "adverse possession." What that boils down to is they had been using the Kirlin's land for some time without challenge from the Kirlin's. 25 years ago the pair had used the other couples land to get their patio. The Kirlin's didn't protest because they didn't know that their neighbours had been trespassing on their land.
McLean though knew the law. He's a former Boulder mayor and served as a district court judge.
In court McLean and Stevens even admitted that they knew they were trespassing. They knew what they were doing when they made paths on it. They knew what they were doing when they threw summer parties on it. They knew what they were doing when they held a political fundraiser on it. They knew what they were doing when they stored their wood on it.
And they knew that the Kirlin's had been paying taxes and homeowners fees all along.
McLean and Stevens won their lawsuit gaining about one third of the Kirlin's lot.
The story gets worse. Yesterday Colorado Supreme Court's Attorney Regulation Counsel rejected the Kirlin's request for a probe into the ethical misconduct of the matter.
The Kirlin's plan to appeal.
If you didn't think the McLean-Stevens couple could get dirtier you'd be wrong. They have asked the judge to force the Kirlin's to pay for their legal bills.
The former judge won. His neighbours, the rightful owners of the lot can't even build on what is left. Their dreams went up in smoke. The thing is in the end the Kirlin's win one thing. Their name isn't tarnished. It's not a dream house but it is something. Something that a former mayor can't say.