There has been a huge increase in the number of civil lawsuits in Aspen filed in Pitkin County this year. The recession along with the crash of the Aspen real estate market is making 2010 looking as if it will have the most lawsuits ever filed in a single year.
Up until just a few days ago, the district court was heading towards more than twice the number of civil cases it had in 2010 versus 2007. The main cause of this was that Aspen real estate foreclosure lawsuits went up more than four times.
“We are seeing more civil cases than we ever have,” according to court clerk Carolyn Jemison.
So far 387 civil lawsuits were filed this year. At this rate the total number should be in excess of the number in 2009 in which there were 408 and in 2008 there were 227 which is when the recession began.
Foreclosure proceedings lead this increase since they create requests by lenders who require public auctions on defaulted Aspen real estate.
There have been 123 foreclosure actions filed in 2010. This is an increase from only 29 foreclosures in 2008 and 87 in 2009.
“The judge is spending more and more time on these and they are keeping us all very busy,” according to Jemison.
If someone is in foreclosures on expensive properties, such as we have in Aspen, they have the right to get an emergency hearing. These emergency hearings will come ahead of other items scheduled on the docket. In 2008 there was only one hearing like this. So far his year there have been 12 such hearings.
In areas where there are larger populations there are specific judges assigned just for foreclosures. Since Aspen has only one district judge the emergency hearings have thrown off the court schedules.
Since many of the foreclosure victims are short on cash, they are attempting to go through the system without the help of expensive attorneys. The court must educate these people which is also put a drain on their resources. Pitkin County has put together their own guide to help these people.
“We’ve noticed that people are typically more upset,” Jemison said. “They’re angry … Other than adoptions, no one is ever happy to be here in general. But these days we are dealing with more unhappy people.”
We wish all of the unfortunate people going through foreclosure the best of luck and hope that all works out well in the end.