A process server is the person designated to deliver legal documents to people. The documents can vary. The summons and complaint, often delivered together, command someone to appear in court due to a legal action against them and can involve probate, landlord-tenant disputes, juvenile situations, wage garnishment, etc. A subpoena, on the other hand, commands someone to court in order to give testimony or produce evidence. Restraining orders command a person not to go near or be involved with the subject of the order.
These documents and their recipients are important, since they allow the lawsuit to proceed apace. The recipient of a summons can have a default judgment against them if they don’t appear, and the recipient of a subpoena can be held in contempt of court.
While many people appear on YouTube videos claiming that you can ignore these documents, they are necessary to allow the legal system to give everyone their day in court. Though this might seem straightforward, an improper serve can slow down or even negate the legal process, or even result in judgments against the process server themselves.
The legal system in America relies on finding and presenting the best evidence for each side, the plaintiff and the defendant. During the trial, people related to the case directly or indirectly may be called to give testimony on the witness stand. Some do this happily but others are not so eager.
Often, sheriff’s deputies deliver these documents. The other option is to use a paid process server. The latter if often preferable due to the fact that they have a stake in the proper and expedient delivery of these documents, whereas the law enforcement officer gets paid whether they are successful or not. Using a private process server, on the other hand, has many advantages:
1) They can cross jurisdictional lines, where sheriff’s deputies can’t.
2) They are familiar with the various laws each state has regarding how service can be accomplished. For example, in most jurisdictions members of the military can’t be served, nor can people inside a courtroom. In some states, servers must be licensed, in some states they don’t need to be.
3) They will do what needs doing to serve the recipient, including surveillance. The process server must obey rules like those that prohibit trespassing. Sometimes narrow exceptions have been made to that topic.
4) They may get creative and employ pretexts (ruses) to serve, although there are lines in this practice they cannot cross. One process server related a case where a person always drove up to their home, pulled into the driveway and immediately shut their door. The process server put a stick in the driveway that the recipient got out to move, and the server dashed up and handed him the papers. (Strange, William, 2007, The Practical Guide to Process Serving. St. Louis, MO: Floppinfish Publishing).
As is evident, the services of a professional process server are many. When you contact Due Process, you can rest assured that our long history and experience with all aspects of process serving and investigations ensure that service will be done right. And that might even make you smile.