The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of Lee Mulcahy, the Burlingame resident who has waged a three-year battle to keep his home, and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s attorney filed a motion that could lead to the forced sale of the residence.
The docket website for the nation’s highest court simply says Mulcahy’s petition to be heard was denied. It is the latest legal defeat for the longtime local, but he said it is not final and that he will seek to vacate a district court judge’s ruling based on what he says was a violation of his constitutional rights to due process.
APCHA in 2015 sued Mulcahy after determining he violated affordable-housing rules related to employment and residency. Judge Chris Seldin of Pitkin County District Court the next year ruled in the housing authority’s favor, finding that Mulcahy failed to document his compliance with the guidelines or timely request a hearing in front of APCHA’s board.
But the judge stayed his ruling to allow Mulcahy to appeal. The Colorado Court of Appeals in 2017 refused to hear the case, as did the Colorado Supreme Court, and APCHA’s attorney, Tom Smith, moved to lift the judicial stay. He wrote that while Mulcahy was “entitled to seek a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, based on the Considerations Governing Review on Certiorari contained in … the U.S. Supreme Court Rules, it is highly likely that any such petition would be denied.”
But Judge Seldin denied that bid — which Smith renewed Monday — ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court “still has appellate jurisdiction over this Court. Given the unique facts of this case — Mulcahy built the house himself — and the irreparable injury involved [Mulcahy being forced to sell the home], the Court declines to lift the stay.”
The ruling allowed him to stay in the home that he and his late father largely built themselves and which is valued at nearly $800,000.
Mulcahy has contended he tried to show compliance with APCHA regulations, albeit after the authority’s deadlines because, in part, he had traveled to Africa as part of a religious humanitarian mission.
He has feuded for years with the Aspen Skiing Co., his former employer, and other institutions, blaming them for myriad issues. He returned to that theme Monday when asked for comment on the latest legal development.
“At its dark heart, this case wasn’t just about APCHA and its corrupt practices, but about making an object lesson on anyone who dared to criticize the owner of the company that owns the company town, billionaire Lester Crown,” Mulcahy wrote in an email. “Our due-process rights were violated.”
He also said that his case required a management conference so “items like mediation, discovery and alternative-dispute resolution” could be discussed.
“Instead of having the case-management conference, APCHA filed for summary judgment instead,” he wrote. “In a contract, both sides have to play fair. APCHA failed to play by their own rules throughout and consequently shouldn’t receive the benefit of our family’s blood, sweat and tears. Sadly, our justice system is in poor shape.”
Messages left with Mulcahy’s attorney, Jordan Porter of Denver, and Smith were not returned Monday.
Smith wrote in the renewed motion to lift Judge Seldin’s stay that, after denial at the U.S. Supreme Court, “Mulcahy has exhausted all of his opportunities for appeal, and there is no further reason to stay the judgment of this court.”
Mulcahy, who is suing APCHA in federal court, owes the housing authority at least $18,400 in attorney and legal fees, Judge Seldin ruled last summer.
Should the judge lift the stay of judgment, APCHA’s next step would be to send Mulcahy a real estate listing contract for the residence.