The Where When And How Of Process Service On the surface, process serving appears to be a fairly simple job. All one must
do is deliver court summons and other legal paperwork to those who are involved
in legal proceedings. However, the task is not always as simple as it appears.
In order to protect the rights of those who are served, there are specific laws
and procedures that govern the service of process. Failure to follow any of these
guidelines may result in the case being dismissed and even legal action against
the process server.
When Can Process Be Served?
This depends on the
laws set forth by your jurisdiction. For example, process may not be served on
Sundays in several states. In some states, it is illegal to serve process on holidays,
or even on Election Day. Many places have made it illegal to serve process on
someone who is going to or from a court of law. The laws vary widely, so be sure
that you are fully aware of those that apply in your area.
Process Be Served?
Process is typically served at the recipient's home
or place of business. However, if your intended recipient does not want to be
served, you may need to consider alternative locations. Process has successfully
been served in all sorts of public locations. Remember that you may not violate
trespass laws, and your particular jurisdiction may prohibit service in certain
How Can Process Be Served?
Actually getting the recipient
to accept service can be an exceptionally difficult task. You may need to employ
various techniques, from catching the recipient off guard to dropping the papers
at his or her feet. Be very careful to pay attention to the laws and procedures
that govern process service in your local area. In general, however, you will
be prohibited from impersonating an officer or other government official or state
worker. You are also forbidden to employ a full disguise in most jurisdictions.
However, you may be allowed to use props that make the suggestion of being someone
else, such as carrying a pizza.
You may be permitted, as a last resort,
to serve process to a legal adult who resides in the same location as the intended
recipient. However, you will need to carefully document this type of service as
well as justify the reason that you did not personally serve the papers to the
Dropping the papers at the recipient's feet may qualify
as service in some jurisdictions. Others require the papers to actually touch
the recipient's body in some way. The laws are extremely complicated and sometimes
vague, so be sure to retain as much evidence of service as you can. This may include
taking pictures of the recipient picking up the papers.
The Bottom Line
service is far from an exact science. There are numerous procedural regulations
and laws that may come into play when attempting to serve process. It is strongly
recommended that a process server seek legal advice from a qualified attorney
prior to serving process in an unorthodox manner. Always remember to follow all
federal, state and local laws, while thinking creatively to serve process in a
manner that works for your situation.