Bud, I like you. Just remember this:

 

Man looks into the abyss.

There is nothing staring back at him.

At that moment, man gains his character.

And that … is what keeps him out of the abyss.

justice-smiles-gold-large.pngThat’s the language that I recall a seasoned, senior broker, played by Hal Holbrook, used to advise Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox at the end of Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie Wall Street.

If you are contemplating a suit in which adverse possession is going to be claimed, regardless if you are the title holder or the adverse possessor, though you may fail to recognize it, you are staring into the abyss!

Adverse possession allows a right, which to claim, often requires a lawsuit. If the title holder decides to put up a fight, the cost of that lawsuit will almost certainly exceed several 10s of thousands of dollars … if not more.

Similarly, the title holder, who might rightfully own the land, may find it just as difficult to force a putative adverse possessor to relinquish what the adverse possessor believes (or in some cases doesn’t even believe) to be his or her land. Bottom line, going mano-a-mano in a land fight is a costly endeavor.

Yet, the abyss that I speak of is not a “money pit.” It is much more insidious. Instead, this abyss is what happens to the person that becomes stuck in the evil web of emotions surrounding adverse possession litigation.

Both you and your neighbor will project the tortured appearance of lucifer onto one another. And make no mistake, it is unlikely that either of you will gleefully seek to offer or accept a little Sympathy for the Devil.

Instead even if there is a settlement after the exchange of the complaint and answer, both parties are going to most likely have severe misgivings toward one another that last the rest of their lives. Unlike a divorce, unless you literally pack up and go, you are going to be living next door to the person you hate most in the world.

Hate? I’ve never had that emotion. What’s it like?

To anyone that might be asking themselves that question, I would unhesitantly point them to Apocolypse Now Redux, the much more intense 2001 rework of Francis Ford Coppolla’s 1979 masterpiece based on the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

This theatrical work, which incidentally stars Charlie’s father Martin Sheen, illustratively provides the endpoint of hatred with the chillingly supurb work of Marlon Brando as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. His closing words say it all: “The Horror! … The Horror!”

If it is true that a good lawyer is one that seeks to de-escalate, rather than escalate legal conflict, then there is probably no area of law in which good lawyers are needed more than in boundary dispute law.

In the main, I would like to think that I am a very good lawyer. Of course, there are times that do call for exception.justice-smiles-gold.png