Why are process servers important?
Would you prefer to know if someone were taking you to court for any reason? Can you imagine going to work to find your wages are being garnished over a debt you didn’t even owe? How about a judge issuing a ruling that affects you in any way without you having a chance to tell your side of the story?
Process servers ensure that does not happen to you or anyone else and that is why they are important. As an impartial third party, the process server does not care who is suing whom and why, the process server cares about making sure those who need notice of the matter get notice of the matter as deemed appropriate by law.
Going a step further, why are clear and concise laws defining what constitutes valid service of process and governing who can serve process important?
California state law provides that a person serving process must not be a party to the action. This avoids the possibility that an unscrupulous litigant claims to provide notice to the person they are suing but actually do not, resulting in a judgment in their favor by default. The court wants to know that all parties received actual notice of the proceedings, whatever they may be, so that everyone gets their “day in court”.
Laws exist that lean in favor of the Registered Process Server, too. For instance, a Registered Process Server in California has “limited exemption to trespass”, meaning that in the course of serving papers, a process server need not fear being sued for trespassing, as gaining access to a person’s property is essential to delivering proper notice, whether they want to receive it or not. Jumping fences and gaining access to the rear or side of a property are essential for some serves.
State law also specifically provides that a Registered Process Server is to be allowed access to a private gated community by the security personnel manning the gate. In fact, if a guard refuses entry to a process server registered in the state, the server can serve the papers to the gate guard by “substituted service” and not even have to knock on the defendant’s door.
When a Registered Process Server signs a Proof of Service, the form required by the court to indicate how service of process was effected, the server does so with rebuttable presumption that service was completed in the way described on the Proof of Service. This means that once the server says he or she served a party, the burden of proof that service was not completed properly lies with the party claiming not to have been properly served. This goes lengths to avoid the situation where a defendant who doesn’t want to be involved in a lawsuit tries to “game the system” or delay the proceedings by claiming they were not properly served when a Registered Process Server says they were.
I believe California law is written well and clearly on these specific points as well as in the way the law defines how service is to be effected in all circumstances. Stick around for further discussion on the different types of service such as personal service, substituted service and service by publication.
Now that you know what a process server is, what one does and why proper notice of legal actions is important, check out Part 3 of this series to learn how you can become a process server and more!