Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crime pays -- if you're well-connected

In Boulder, Colorado, retired judge, former mayor and all-around well-connected politico Richard McLean and his wife, attorney Edith Stevens took a shine to property adjacent to their own, so they had one of McLean's former colleagues on the bench steal the parcel from its rightful owners and give it to them.

No, I'm not kidding.

Don and Susie Kirlin had purchased the land in the early 1980s, planning to build their dream home on the site. But McLean and Stevens claimed that since they'd trespassed on the land continuously for many of those years, they'd gained the right of "adverse possession" over the property -- an obscure and dubious legal doctrine originally intended to encourage development in sparsely settled areas. It's apparently also a handy tool for clever legal-eagles looking for borderline legal scams to run on their neighbors. District Judge James Klein bought their argument and ordered the Kirlins to hand over one-third of the parcel.

In what may be a surprise only to McLean and Stevens, the move has proven controversial. The controversy has spawned protests and an effort to have the duo investigated for legal-ethics violations.

You can find full coverage of the case here in the Boulder Daily Camera.

McLean and Stevens have reputations as Boulder-style advocates for community-controlled open space in preference to private property rights. They're also extremely plugged-in politicos with power and influence among the Boulder elite. It shouldn't be any shocker, then, to discover that, when they talk about community control, they mean themselves and their friends.

Unfortunately, this is invariably the case whenever somebody advocates that, for the "good of the community," protections for individual rights should be curtailed. Well-intentioned people are won over by the soft-and-fuzzy argument that the interests of the majority should prevail over the "selfish" freedom of the individual. But it's not some ethereal concept of common good that benefits from these incursions -- it's the politically powerful who always come out on top.

Protections for individual rights -- like that of private property -- are hard-nosed, realistic shields against creatures like Richard McLean and Edith Stevens.

Here's an appropriate quote from Frederic Bastiat:

Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim -- when he defends himself -- as a criminal. In short, there is a legal plunder ...

Update: Courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here's Richard McLean's contact info:

2059 Hardscrabble Dr.
Boulder, CO 80303
Home Phone: 303.494.3324
Fax: 303.494.6973



Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW - "Liberal" Boulder had no say in the appointment of Judge James C. Klein. Instead, it was our former governor, Bill Owens, a "conservative" Republican, who we can thank for that. Judge Klein, who was appointed by Bill Owens in 2005, will stand for retention in the 2008 election. So don't criticize Boulder until we've had our chance to throw this Republican-appointed activist judge out of office.

November 20, 2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Point taken. But my criticism wasn't directed at Boulder's liberalism; instead, I'm critical of any regime that elevates "the community" over protections for individual rights, because the political power that entails will inevitably be abused by those with office and connections. Conservatives are just as good as liberals at denigrating the individual in the name of the majority.

November 20, 2007 8:09 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

How do we get ahold of the Kirlins and James C. Klein? I've been searching for that information as well.

November 20, 2007 9:48 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Your best bet for contacting Judge Klein is probably to go through the district Court. Go to his page and click on "Contact."

For the Kirlins, try going through LandGrabber.org

November 21, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Have any of you ever studied law? Do you know what the job of a judge is?

A judge is a law enforcer, not a law maker. The law is ridiculous, but It's not a judge's place to try to change it. Judges take oaths to uphold the law regardless of personal convictions, had Klein ignored the law and done "what was right" he would be an activist judge, and probably would face some serious repercussions.

So to those of you who enjoy criticizing and villainizing a man from the sidelines, just because he had the balls to make an unpopular but legally correct decision, grow up and get a life.

December 13, 2007 4:35 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

Oh, and next time you order food at a restaurant, and it sucks, be sure to punch the hostess and the waiter in the face.

December 13, 2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 18, 2009 11:35 PM  

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