The Georgia Association of Professional Process Servers (GAPPS) has recently taken on the Sheriffs in their state.
After much lobbying, in 2010 Georgia private process servers gained the ability to serve process in addition to the previously allowed sheriffs or deputies, court marshals, special appointees and those appointed by a superior, state or magistrate court. The newly amended law required private process servers to become certified first.
There was also one additional proviso to the statute – they would be allowed to serve “provided that the sheriff of the county for which process is to be served allows such servers to serve process in such county”. This section was added in when the Georgia Sheriffs Association agreed to not oppose the bill if it allowed each sheriff the decision of whether or not to allow private process servers.
Fast forward two years and what has happened shows the sheriffs most likely had no intention of ever allowing private process servers to actually serve. All but one of the 159 sheriffs in the state have decided they would not allow certified process servers in their county. Despite 123 individuals currently being listed as certified process servers, the actions of the sheriffs have effectively created a blockade against these servers.
With the help of funding from the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS), GAPPS hopes to have the sheriffs’ actions declared unconstitutional and has filed a petition naming multiple respondents. The basis of this argument is the creation of the law is part of legislative authority, and the sheriffs’ ability to deny all process servers the right to serve is “an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the Sheriffs because it permits them to effectively repeal the statute.”
In an article in the NAPPS publication, The Docket Sheet, the president of GAPPS Deb Duchon estimates costs to reach between $100,000 and $200,000 before the issue is resolved. So far, GAPPS has been granted $8,553.99 from NAPPS after requesting a grant from the Legislative Fund. Litigation is expensive but the cost of not doing anything comes at an even higher price for those serving in Georgia.
GAPPS is accepting contributions to their fund. Any contributions can be made out to the “GAPPS Litigation Fund” and sent to:
GAPPS Litigation Fund
Post Office Box 7710
Atlanta, GA 303574-0710