COVID-19 court closures prevent Castle Rock homeowner from evicting squatter

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado courtrooms are closed due to the coronavirus and that is preventing a local homeowner from getting a squatter out of her house.

“He is squatting. He has no permission to be there, no right to be there, and everyone’s hands seem to be tied because of COVID,” Jamie Rich said.

Rich owns a house off of Oakwood Drive in Castle Rock, according to the Douglas County Assessor. But now, she says she’s sleeping in hotels after her ex-boyfriend took over.

“I loved him. I had feelings for him but he conned me and manipulated me,” Rich said. “I helped him out, paid his kid’s cellphone bills, and helped him out while he was in prison. I’m a nice person.”

When the relationship went south, she asked the man to leave her house. This was back in February, but he refused.

“He’s like, ‘I’m not going anywhere. You’ll have to evict me properly,'” Rich said.

Frustrated, Rich started the civil court process of getting the man evicted. But then, COVID-19 infiltrated the U.S. – forcing courtrooms to close.

“My entire life is being stolen because of COVID. My entire life. He has my house,” Rich said. With every day that passes, Rich, who has access to some cameras on the property, says she has witnessed the man cut down her trees and destroy her property.

“He has used my whole house as an ash tray. He’s robbed my house. Everything is trashed.”

FOX31 stopped by the house looking for answers, but no one came to the door.

Attorney Phil Harding of Harding & Associates, said some court proceedings may be conducted remotely, which is not always ideal.

“It might even be done through a phonecall as well, which is a lot harder, especially when you’re trying to cross examine someone over the phone,” Harding said.

He offered this advice: “She needs to notify her insurance companies. If things are getting stolen, she needs to notify the police. If someone is taking her data or Social Security, they could open up other accounts and she should probably freeze her credit.”

Rich is still paying the $2,000 mortgage on the home where the squatter is. Realistically, with the court back-log, Rich is still several weeks away from locking in a court date and moving toward a resolution.

“I feel so victimized by our system right now. In the past month and a half, between living and lawyers, I’ve gone $60,000 in debt.”

According to the Colorado Judicial Branch, there will be no jury trials in Colorado until June 1, at the earliest. All in-person proceedings set through May 15, for certain jurisdictions — including Douglas County — are vacated. Visit this website to access information for the court in a particular jurisdiction.

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