Relatively unknown outside the legal world, a process server notifies individuals that they’re involved in a legal issue. Typically, this involves “serving” legal papers and court papers to a person involved in a court case.
Serving papers isn’t all that’s required, however. Process servers also need to document that that the papers were served. This is called “proof of service”. This proof of service is then notarized and given to the person who asked for the papers to be served.
The way papers are served can vary from state to state, and process servers are legally required to ensure that they adhere to state regulations when serving papers. This is because the serving of papers is considered part of due process. Papers that aren’t served properly may compromise a legal case – or get it thrown out altogether.
Here are three things attorneys should look for when hiring a process server.
1 Uses a process serving mobile app with GPS and photos
Many states mandate that all processes be served with an electronic device that uses GPS functionality to record the time, date and location of a service or attempted service. Even if your state doesn’t legally require the use of a GPS device, they can be a valuable tool for providing evidence of process serving.
If you don’t have a GPS device, you can always use a process serving mobile app. There are dozens of apps on the market today. These apps provide real-time details of service attempts.
When hiring a process server, determine whether they have access to either a mobile app or GPS tracking device that can provide evidence of process serving – and that adheres to local laws.
2 Uses a body camera when legal
Like GPS-enabled mobile apps or other tracking devices, a body camera can provide additional proof of service. Not only this, but they can also provide proof that the papers were served properly, resolving potential fraudulent claims about the quality or conduct of service.
Body cameras can also provide additional documentation in instances where an individual acts aggressively towards a process server, or if claims are made against the server.
However, the use of body cameras must fall within local privacy and consent laws. In many instances, dual consent is required. Moreover, recordings of individuals in private situations or in instances where they have declined to be recorded may not be legal.
While recent legislation requiring process servers in Illinois to wear body cameras failed to pass, we may be hearing more on this topic in future.
3 Knows the law regarding service of process and adheres to it
Failure to properly serve process can seriously compromise a case. If papers are served improperly, an individual can claim a failure to follow the due process clause of the US constitution. This can lead to a case being thrown out.
The laws around service of process vary from state to state and can have an effect not just on who can serve process, but also how. For example, in Illinois, only a sheriff, police officer, coroner or licensed PI can act as a process server. Serving process is subject to strict regulations about where the papers are served, to whom, and under what circumstances. These regulations also depend on whether an individual or an organization is being served. The right process server will have a comprehensive understanding of these regulations and will stringently adhere to them.
When hiring a process server, we recommend looking for someone with both a clear understanding of how to serve process, along with the technology to support their attempts. This will help ensure that your documents are served properly – and legally – every time.