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Economy Sees More Lawsuits, People Representing Themselves

10:23 AM, Jan 5, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - More people are being sued over debt due to the economy. Credit card debt, mortgage defaults, foreclosures are all fueling many of the lawsuits. 

Now more than ever, people are taking matters into their own hands and representing themselves because they can't afford an attorney, according to the Civil Self-Help Center at the Sacramento County Public Law Library.

The Civil Self-Help Center at the Sacramento County Public Law Library provides free legal advice and information on a number of civil issues to people who are seeking to represent themselves.

The public can attend workshops or receive one-to-one assistance.

Jim Kitchen needs a lawyer. He's being sued. But he can't afford one because he's retired and on a limited income.

Kitchen said that while most attorneys can charge $400 to $500 an hour, he is learning how to represent himself thanks to the  center.

"They walk you through it so you know what you're filling out," said Kitchen. "I've got probably five to six hours vested in this, so I would save probably $2,000 bucks."

Attorney Eric Nakano said that more people are being sued.

"The majority of cases we're seeing are related to credit card debt," Nakano said.

With the downturn in the economy, the center said it has seen an uptick in litigation and people representing themselves in civil lawsuits. The center and law library have seen as many as 500 people a month.

David Hardy took matters into his own hands to try and save some money.

"I'm not a person with legal knowledge. Without their help, I'd be lost," said Hardy.

Nakano said his office doesn't represent anyone, nor do they have a vested interest if they win or lose. The goal is to help a person navigate the legal system. And when times are tough, it gives those in need an option.

"I'm just thankful they're here. Not just for me, but everyone else who needs help," said Kitchen.

by Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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