Aspen man’s affordable home ownership in peril after latest ruling
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No matter which court venues Aspen resident Lee Mulcahy has tried to convince he should keep ownership of his affordable-housing unit at Burlingame Ranch, he has fallen short, the latest blow coming Wednesday with a decision from Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin. That ruling means Mulcahy must sell his home after years of litigation.
Mulcahy issued a statement Wednesday night accusing the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority of engaging in “corrupt practices” while targeting him because of his criticism of Lester Crown and Chicago family, which own Aspen Skiing Co.
His statement was in response to Seldin’s denial of Mulcahy’s Feb. 18 motion asking the judge to vacate his previous order, from June 2016, that Mulcahy sell his house in a decision prompted by a lawsuit from APCHA, which monitors residency qualifications at Burlingame.
Seldin had placed enforcement of that order, however, on hold as Mulcahy brought the case to Colorado Court of Appeals, which upheld the ruling, as well as the state and U.S. supreme courts, both of which refused to review the case. Following the nation’s highest court’s decision Jan. 7 to not hear Mulcahy’s case, Seldin lifted his stay.
Through Denver attorney Jordan Porter, Mulcahy had asked the judge to vacate the stay on Mulcahy’s contention that he wasn’t allowed due process or discovery before ruling in favor of plaintiff Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. Mulcahy also argued that APHCA took advantage of his pro-se status and “Mulcahy’s due process rights were definitively violated and the judgment here must be vacated as a result,” the motion argued.
APCHA sued Mulcahy in December 2017, claiming the artist failed to meet the housing authority’s ownership requirements of working 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.
Seldin’s Wednesday ruling said Mulcahy, who did not have an attorney during the district court proceedings, had acknowledged that discovery had not begun but did not request discovery when APCHA sought a summary judgment in the case.
Seldin said it was not the court’s responsibility to help Mulcahy navigate the legal proceedings.
“The court is neutral,” Seldin’s order says. “It cannot litigate a pro se party’s case for it. Nor is there any concern here that Mulcahy lacked an understanding of his right to discovery, because he had specifically referenced that right in his own filings.”
APCHA attorney Tom Smith ad Porter could not be immediately reached for comment.
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Pitkin County residents are coming out in droves to apply for financial assistance through a local relief fund. Almost 60 percent of the 800-plus applicants are Aspen residents.