Assault Archives - DGR Legal

Assault Against Process Servers Becomes Felony Charge in New York

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New York process servers will now have additional protection against assaults with the passage of SB2991, which makes assault against a process server a Class D felony.

It took the bill four legislative sessions to finally be passed, but it was worth the wait. In an age where process servers are facing increasing tension and violence, this new law will help to create further penalties for anyone who attacks a process serve. Not only does the new law offer some form of deterrent, but it also provides a means with which to hold assailants accountable for their actions against a process server who is supporting the legal system.

Quote from an article from the Times Union shows clear support of both the Assembly and Senate for the newly passed bill:

“Process servers play an important role in our justice system. It is reprehensible that someone would intentionally injure a process server simply for conducting the business of the courts and citizens of New York State. This new protection will elevate repercussions for those who harm process servers, keeping more New Yorkers safe.”   -Senator Catharine Young

“Process servers are considered the legal system’s delivery agents and should be given the same laws of protection as we do law enforcement agents. This legislation will give process servers the protection they need and deserve and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing it into law.”   -Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow

New York joins California, Florida and Illinois, all who have laws in place making assault against a process server a felony.

A big congratulations is in order for New York process servers and the New York State Professional Process Servers Association (NYSPPSA) who have put in countless hours, funds and determination to help see this bill from development to passage.

 

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Process Server Assault Bill Reintroduced in NY Senate and Assembly

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A bill making assault on a process server felony was successfully reintroduced in both the Senate and Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1250 and Senate Bill 1250 would make assault of a process server a class D felony, whether it is the international causing of physical injury to obstruct them from performing their duty or in retaliation for performing their duties.

Similar bills were introduced in 2013 (S2599 and A3091-13) but only passed through the Senate. The bill was not voted on in the Assembly and was referred to codes.

If New York does pass this bill they will be the fourth state to make assault against a process server a felony, joining California, Florida and Illinois.

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VA Supreme Court Rules No Duty To Warn Process Servers

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warn process serverIn a recent suit brought by the family of a process server who was killed while attempting service, the Virginia Supreme Court has stated that attorneys have no legal obligation to warn process servers of a potentially dangerous service.

The family of the process server, Greg Brown, had appealed the original decision, but the Virginia Supreme Court sided with attorney Sherwin John Jacobs.  The Virginia Supreme Court stated that no lawyer who hires a process server has a duty to warn them that the defendant might be armed and dangerous, as was the case when Brown when to go serve the defendant.

What does this mean for process servers?

This ruling serves as a warning to not assume the lawyer involved would have told you if the service could potentially be a dangerous situation.

It means process servers should always be going into each service aware the situation could turn and prepared to the best of their ability to handle it.

It also means process servers should ask more questions of any service where they feel the subject may be a risky serve.

While the majority of services go smoothly for the most part, it’s important for process servers to stay vigilant on each service and be aware that in emotionally charged situations there is the potential for a subject to become hostile.

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Attorney Being Sued Over Failure to Warn Process Server

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warn process serverAn appeal was just granted in the case of an attorney being sued by the wife of a private investigator who was killed while attempting to serve an individual. The basis of the case revolves around whether or not the attorney had a duty to warn the process server of any potential danger.

Greg Brown, a process server from Virginia, was serving Ali Abid, a Canadian citizen, in a case for attorney Sherwin J. Jacobs. Brown went missing and his body was discovered in his car three days later. Abid fled to Iraq and to date has not yet been found.

Debra Brown, the wife of Greg Brown, has since secured a judgment against Abid and also filed suit against Jacobs. The suit alleges Jacobs knew Abid was dangerous and also had knowledge Abid had recently purchased a gun.

Originally the case against Jacobs was dismissed due to the failure to show a “special relationship” between the attorney and the investigator that would create a legal duty to warn Brown. An appeal was granted, stating there was in fact sufficient evidence to show a special relationship did indeed exist and it was reasonably foreseeable that there was a probability of harm. The case will now be heard by the Virginia Supreme Court.

This will be the first case of its kind and will create case law surrounding the issue. It will be interesting to see how the Virginia Supreme Court interprets the incident and what the final ruling will be. Many times a dangerous situation that arises in process service cannot be foreseen, but I’m sure we can all agree if there was knowledge the situation could be potentially dangerous advance notice would be extremely appreciated.

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New York Process Server Assault Bill Passes Senate, On Hold

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The New York State Professional Process Servers Association (NYSPPSA) has sent out an update in reference to Senate Bill S2599/Assembly Bill A3091-13.

The New York legislative website lists the bill as passing the Senate on June 11th and then being delivered the Assembly and referred to codes.

According to NYSPPSA, the bill was not placed on the Assembly’s agenda for yesterday’s session, presumably due to the volume of other bills. . As the vote was unanimous in the Senate and the bills are still active, NYSPPSA  is hopeful of the possibility of a vote in the fall session.

If New York does pass this bill they will be the fourth state to make assault against a process server a felony, joining California, Florida and Illinois.

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When Lawyers and Judges Assault Process Servers

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One of the top news stories this week in the process service industry is the case of the Texas judge who pulled a gun on a process server and later had him arrested on false charges.

For the number of individuals who are served on a yearly basis, those encounters with attorneys and judges which escalate to such extreme situations are rare but not unheard of.  Take a look at these cases over the past few years which have involved instances of accused or confirmed charges of assault by judges or attorneys:

Illinois state attorney commits aggravated assault against process server

Allen James was committed of aggravated assault against a process server who attempted to serve him a summons and was suspended from practicing law for four months.

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Judge candidate accused of assaulting a process server

Michael Rowan, a candidate for Davidson County General Sessions judge, was accused of physically assaulting a court process server while being served a civil suit.

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Santa Ana lawyer arrested for suspicion of assaulting process server

Ralph Gibson Pagter Jr., a Santa Ana lawyer, was arrested for trying to stab a process server who was serving him with civil court papers with a large hunting knife.

READ MORE

 

Know of any more cases involving lawyers or judges? Let us know below.

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Dangers of Serving & The PAAPRS Campaign

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While those in the process serving industry know all about how the tense situations services can cause, the media has been bringing more and more of these cases to light.  A recent article on how process servers are saying foreclosures put them in danger highlights numerous instances where servers have faced attacks.  In the face of these types of situations, it seems a good time to spread the word about Serve Now’s PAAPRS campaign.

Process Server Safety

As taken from their site, ‘The PAAPRS campaign is an initiative focused on raising awareness about process server assault and promoting regulations and law changes that further protect process servers’.  This initiative does not just provide articles, news and tips for servers but also provides them with a place to officially mark down server attacks.  While of course all attacks should involve a formal police report, the Process Server Assaults Map allows individuals to visually see the number of assaults.  For purposes of pursuing legislation to have assault on a process server made a felony this detailed record of assaults provides powerful ammunition to pass such a bill.

Process Server assault map

Serve Now even goes so far as to assure each assault case is given a voice if it has not yet received appropriate coverage. Making these instances well known to the public provides even further backing toward the backing of such legislation protecting servers.

Take a look at the site including news coverage, assault map, test your assault prevention knowledge with their short quiz, and make sure to spread the word about this tool which ultimately can help benefit process servers nationwide.

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Judge Candidate Added to List of Server Assailants

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We just posted earlier in the week about a process server assault not receiving more media attention than a single article.  Yet another assault has occurred, again receiving minimal attention.  Although this attack involves a large factor that makes the lack of coverage surprising: the assailant was a judge candidate.

It’s alleged that Michael Rowan, who is a candidate for Davidson County General Sessions judge in Tennessee, attacked process server Jeremy Frank by striking him in the head as he was trying to serve papers from a lawsuit by LexisNexis.  Jeremy’s wife Kasey had been waiting for him in the car and her recollection of the incident paints a picture of a situation that no process server wants to find themselves in.  Particularly interesting is that Kasey had encouraged Jeremy to go back to the door after the first attempt yielded no response, citing the fact that Rowan was an attorney and running for judge so he “wouldn’t do anything unacceptable”.

That clearly turned out not to be the case.  

So why is the issue not getting attention, especially given the fact that it was an attorney involved?  If it were a cop or firefighter who was in the same situation as Jeremy Frank, one can almost be sure that the public would take more notice.  Instead assaults on process servers are seen as a news story that doesn’t deserve covering.

As an industry we must work together to change this.  It can’t be stressed enough – state associations and individual involvement are so important.  Only though legislation and petitioning will process servers gain the level of protection under laws that is needed.  While the large majority of services go ahead without much conflict, if an attack on a process server were to be a felony in all states those serves that do result in violence would certainly be reduced with such a deterrent in place. 

 

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Process Servers Taking a Beating – Literally

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Yet another case of violence against a process server has made headlines, but hasn’t received enough attention in the eyes of the Process Servers Association of Colorado. We would have to agree.

In the newest case, a process server was dragged by a car for several blocks. He had been trying to serve the papers and was grabbed by the arm through the car window as the subject was driving away.

It seems as though the cases of violence and assaults against process servers is increasing. With emotions running high in a time of increased foreclosures and nationwide economic distress, a higher number of assaults is not altogether surprising. 

Some may argue that there have always been a large number of assaults and there are just more media outlets than ever before, simply making it easier to bring such cases to light.  Whatever the case is, the number of assaults popping up across the country has urged many to take action. We cannot allow such actions to go unnoticed.

Some of the stories receive more attention than others. When it is a prominent individual, such as a mayor, that is involved in the altercation there tends to be a bigger spotlight shone on the assault.  But for the most part these attacks quickly come and go through the news cycle. 

Steven Glenn, President of the Process Servers Association of Colorado is calling on the association’s members to support the individual who was assaulted, as well as generate media and look into the possibility of a bill similar to the ones in Illinois and New York. He’s determined not to let this recent attack fall by the wayside and go unnoticed by the public.

As far as we can tell, there was just this one little article on the incident.  Let’s all be sure to send whatever support we can to the association and to spread this news story.

 

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