Foreclosure Crisis Causing Havoc in Courts

Bankruptcy or fight eviction? Either way, people are filing in record numbers and the consequences impact everyone from the front porch to the courtroom.

"No, we can't. We can't let nobody take it," said Vicky Archibeque.

Vicky's journey is increasingly common. She couldn't pay her mortgage and an eviction notice was just hours from being on her door step. A legal, but emotional fight.

"Basket case. A basket case. It made me feel like I was inadequate of keeping the bills paid," she said.

The numbers behind the emotion tell a much more disturbing tale. Foreclosure filings for evictions topped 700 in 2006. In 2007, they spiked to nearly 1,800.

So far in the first three and a half months of 2008, they are already at 1,100.

If the trend continues, there will be more than 3,000 legal notices sent out this year.

"We have such a backlog. It's not the attorney's fault, it's really not the court's fault, it's the system's fault," said Judge Douglas Smith.

Judge Smith sees that backlog every day. He says it is costing potentially millions of dollars in extra work while the court is already facing 15,000 criminal cases, and more than 40,000 civil cases.

"Well, Las Vegas is the busiest court in the United States," said Judge Smith.

Slowed to a crawl and hemorrhaging taxpayer money, all because of foreclosures.

"That is an unparalleled amount of work," said Smith.

Attorney Shawn Christopher says bankruptcy helped Vicky before she became part of the 3,000 evictions.

"At some point, you're fighting the losing battle," he said.

A month later, there's still a shame in being so close to failure and being a part of the problem, instead of the solution.

"About a million stabs in the heart, because you gotta look at your kids face knowing that you're working, but you can't pay the bills to get caught up," she said.

Luckily Archibeque had disability money come in at the last second to stop another eviction notice going out.

Legal experts say is not going away, as people continue to fight for their homes, they will go to court to stop it at any cost. That means more trips to the courthouse and more money we all have to pay to kick people out of their former homes.

Email your comments to Reporter Jonathan Humbert


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