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Users keepers: Pirates, zombies and adverse possession

Coffey Modica partner Paul Golden discusses his latest book on the ABA Journal: Modern Law Library podcast.


“Trespassing plus time equals adverse possession,” Paul Golden writes in his new book, Litigating Adverse Possession Cases: Pirates v. Zombies. When someone has occupied or used a piece of property as though they own it for long enough, a court could determine that they are the rightful owner—regardless of what the paperwork says. It’s a concept more popularly discussed as squatter’s rights.

In this episode of The Modern Law Library, Golden speaks with the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles about the ancient concepts underlying modern adverse possession law; some quirky state laws; and why societies would allow land to be transferred in this way. They also discuss how the plain meaning of terms like “hostile” are changed when used in adverse possession cases, and Rawles raises a hypothetical—taken from real life—of a neighbor’s crooked fence.

During Golden’s first appearance on The Modern Law Library, he explained how the lack of a written contract could be navigated by a savvy lawyer. In his new book, Golden guides attorneys and their clients through the finer points of arguing for and against adverse possession claims. He shares some of the errors he’s seen pop up in adverse possession cases, and offers advice for how to avoid common pitfalls.