News Archives - DGR Legal

What Process Servers Have to Be Thankful for in 2015

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This year process service saw some interesting developments. Let’s take a look at what process servers have to be thankful for in 2015:

Illinois Association of Process Servers Becomes a Chartered State Association

ILAPPS has been around for a while now and has achieved some considerable accomplishments, including passing a bill that made assault against a process server a felony. Now the association is officially a chartered state association of NAPPS, meaning they’re eligible for funding from the national association for legislative issues, will receive remuneration for NAPPS members who are also ILAPPS members and receive advertising reciprocity.

Hawaii Passes Bill Protecting Process Servers From Trespass

On June 10th Hawaii passed HB87 which protects process servers from criminal trespass. This protection only applies to process servers who are attempting to serve in good faith and doesn’t apply when the premises are surrounded by a locked gate. For more information go here.

Appellate Court Reverses Decision for Log Book Requirement for Process Servers Outside of New York City

A New York Court reversed the June 2013 decision that process servers outside of New York City had to maintain a log book for services performed outside of New York City. This is good news for process servers in New York since the logbook upkeep can take up a good amount of time.

 

These are just a few of the things we have to be thankful for as process servers in 2015. Have anything else to add? Comment below!

– Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at DGR!

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ServeNow Introduces “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” Campaign

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This weekend at the NYSPPSA conference I had the pleasure of meeting Adam Camras from Serve-Now face to face. While I was excited to finally put a face to the name, what really got me was finding out about a video Serve Now created that I hadn’t heard about before as a part of their new “Don’t Shoot The Messenger” campaign.

Serve Now created this campaign to help raise awareness about process server safety and also to challenge the public impression of process servers. Take a look: 

 

NJPPSA’s very own President John Hiltwine is featured in the video.  Serve Now can certainly be applauded for putting the effort into creating a piece which benefits the entire process service community. The truth is that many individuals tend to see process servers as solely the bearers of bad news, when truly all we are doing is protecting their right of due process.

Be sure to share this video. Facebook, Twitter, email – send it to everyone you know! It’s a great way to show just how important what process servers do is and to positively influence the reputation process servers have.

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Process Server Requirements Vary Greatly Across the Country

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I recently came across this piece from the Fordham Law School on process server requirements and provisions by state. Granted the information is from 2009 and some states have seen some changes in these provisions, such as New York, but it is interesting to see the disparity between certification requirements, registration and insurance.

Because on a national level there have not been an overwhelmingly significant number of changes, the data used in this post is from 2009.  After creating a visual of the Fordham data, it’s easy to see the distinct divide in regard to requirements across the country.

 

process server requirements

 

The above information seems to highlight a recent discussion among process servers as to whether requirements and education should be more uniform nationwide. Some argue this would help limit instances of sewer service and set more structure for the industry as the role of process servers has come into greater scrutiny in the past few years.

I’ll be going more in depth on this report in the coming weeks but want to hear some feedback. Is the difference in requirements a non-issue or is it something that should be addressed?

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New Jersey E-filing Update

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An e-filing system in New Jersey could take longer to go live than previously anticipated after the Assembly Budget Committee amended a bill, S-2207/A-2208, regarding legislation that would allow the Supreme Court to raise filing fees as a way to fund the system.

The bill, which initially stated the funding would support both the e-filing system and the Legal Services of New Jersey, was amended to say that the Legal Services will be the first to get money.

Introduced in October 2012, the bill now awaits its second reading. If passed with the new amendments the bill will need to be returned to the Senate for consideration.

Set up to raise $27.1 million, the e-filing system would see $17 million of that but only after the $10.1 million to supplement the Legal Services’ budget was raised.

The current e-filing system in New Jersey, JEFIS, can only be used for foreclosure cases and in the Special Civil Part. There is no expected timeline as to when the rest of the system will be implemented but there is no doubt that by first allocating funds to Legal Services, it will set back the launch date.

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Correction in Regard to Maryland Bill 554

Posted by | Legislation/Bills, News | No Comments

In a previous blog post we had discussed Maryland Bill 554. I was incorrect in our statement that the bill had been withdrawn. Our understanding of this had been influenced in part by hearing from several MAAPPS members when we were only aware of the Senate bill and not the House bill.

In order to clear up any confusion I spoke with the MAAPPS legislative chairperson, Michelle Dwojewski. It seems as though what happened was that a bill was cross filed with both the Maryland House and Senate in regard to process server registration and licensing.  MAAPPS was able to achieve success in convincing the sponsor of House Bill 1291, Delegate Hucker, to withdraw the bill given that MAAPS was already in discussions with the Senate to negotiate terms that were agreeable to both the proponents of the bill and those in the process serving industry.

The chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsor of the bill, Senator Frosh, has made it clear that Senate Bill 554 will not be withdrawn.  It is anticipated that the Senator will not put the bill to vote in this session as it has been agreed on by both sides that substantial revisions are necessary. This will provide time for MAAPPS to come up with “good, alternative legislation that wouldn’t harm our industry and would be beneficial for the proponents” says Michelle.

Updates will be posted, as well as recent discussions with MAAPPS members at our last NJPPSA meeting.

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Texas Bill to Allow Service of Process By Social Media

Posted by | Electronic Service of Process, News, Rulings | 3 Comments

There have been a number of recent bills on the table which could affect process servers. One of the top ones from last week involved Texas HB 1989, which if enacted could make service of process by social media a viable option.

According to the bill the court must find a number of things before an individual can be served via social media:

(1)  the defendant maintains a social media page on that website;

(2)  the profile on the social media page is the profile of the defendant;

(3)  the defendant regularly accesses the social media page account; and

(4)  the defendant could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice if the electronic communication were sent to the defendant’s account.

There has been no procedure set for how it will be determined if any of the above are true. In any event it is certainly an indication of where things are headed in our industry.

As pointed out by Jeff Karotkin, Ohio already has a bill in place which allows for electronic service of process. Within Ohio electronic service of process is currently as threatening to personal service of process as is service by publication. Given the relatively quick adoption of this practice in a notoriously slow adapting profession, the movement of the law to accept such service may mean the future could see it becoming more of a front line service.

A pointed difference between these two bills though is in Ohio it is clearly stated that this should be used an alternate means of service after reasonable diligence has been executed. In Texas, this type of language doesn’t exist in this new bill.

Another interesting piece in the Texas bill is that it does not mention electronic service of process and specifically refers to social media.  This may lead to some necessary clarification down the road if the bill is passed to determine exactly what sites fall under the category of “social media page”.   Would that eliminate service through email as most of us with a gmail or other email account generally don’t have a “social media page” for our email address (aside from those with Google+ of course!).

Do you think if passed this bill would have any real impact on our industry?

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Hurricane Sandy Impacts Foreclosures & Services in NJ

Posted by | Foreclosure, News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Foreclosures in New Jersey have been at a trickle over the past couple years due to a number of issues including Notice of Intent letters. Recently, just as things were starting to gain speed foreclosures have once again been halted by the majority of lenders. The impact of Hurricane Sandy has caused many lenders to issue a moratorium of 90 days within the state.

With the way foreclosures currently stand in New Jersey, a recent article in the Press of Atlantic City cites Darren Blomquist, vice president of foreclosure-information service RealtyTrac as saying it will take at least 17 months to clear through the present backlog.

Here is a timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on foreclosures:

October 30th: HUD grants a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued home mortgages

November 9th: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announce a 90 day moratorium for those who live in federally announced disaster area.

November 13th: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez calls on the New Jersey Attorney General to issue a moratorium that would:

  • suspend foreclosure sales and evictions
  • delay the initiation of any foreclosure action
  • waive late payment charges
  • put a hold on credit reporting for borrowers with homes located in eligible disaster areas.  

According to CNN Money private lenders JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo are all offering to postpone payments for up to 90 days for customers in disaster areas.  Citibank has also moved to suspend foreclosure sales within the federally declared disaster areas.   However despite offering payment options for current mortgages, no official statements have been made by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase or Wells Fargo in regard to the foreclosure process after Hurricane Sandy.  It is expected foreclosures will see a considerable slow down until the 90 moratorium first implemented by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is lifted.

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Another Case of Electronic Service of Process

Posted by | Electronic Service of Process, News | No Comments

 

Yet another case of e-service has occurred in the United States.

The interesting thing about this case is that the e-service appears to have been approved in part due to the fact that the company owned and operated more than 34 websites. Being a web-based company, it would make sense that they utilized email on a frequent basis and had access to it. The likelihood of them checking their email was high in this instance.  The court ruled that the service could only be completed as long as there was proof of email delivery.

While it can be argued that it cannot be assumed that everyone would have the same level of email interaction as a web-based company, this has certainly created a precedent. In other cases overseas, particularly in cases of service through Facebook, there needed to be proof that the individual was likely to receive the message. Through Facebook, recent pictures, updates or new friends on profiles which haven’t edited their privacy setting could be indicators of this.

But how does one know about the e-mail of an individual?  Where is the line drawn? 

As a process server, the primary concern is of this becoming the first line of action. For now the instances in which e-service was allowed was after alternate options had been exhausted and personal service was attempted in some format. But once the ice starts to crack, it spreads.

It begins with service as a last resort means on individuals and corporations which have a clear web presence. It moves on to any subject which has avoided all other types of services.  And then it becomes the first type of attempt, wherein cheaper costs associated with emailing convince lawmakers to eliminate the need for personal service.

As personal service is part of our due rights, and as it cannot be guaranteed that an individual who opened the email is necessarily the subject, we can only hope that this doesn’t happen. It’s something to keep an eye on, as it may cause others across the country to pursue similar avenues of serving.

Stay vigilant process servers! 

 

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Judge Candidate Added to List of Server Assailants

Posted by | Assault, News | No Comments

 

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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Tracking Casey Anthony – Is That Even Legal?

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Making news headlines this week is the case of Zenaida Gonzalez, who has a civil suit against Casey Anthony for claiming a woman with the same name kidnapped her daughter.  The issue at hand is Gonzalez’s ability to serve a subpoena on Anthony.  Without the subpoena, their case will not be able to move forward.  An Orange County judge ruled that she can be subpoenaed but the defense team does not have to provide her address and does not have to accept service.

With Casey in hiding, how does one manage to serve her?  Is this even legal? The basic facts are that these actions are indeed legal and it is now up to the attorneys of Gonzalez to locate Casey.  Situations such as these are a common occurrence in the process serving industry, with individuals attempting to avoid service, going to such lengths as to move every few months and acquire new jobs with each move and even change their identity.

So how does a process server locate these individuals?  Through due diligence.  By carefully going through records and searching through national databases, process servers, many of whom are also private investigators, can locate individuals in order to effectuate service. The process of due diligence has certain limitations to process servers, particularly within states such as New Jersey, before they become a different class of business.

Private investigators in places like New Jersey gmaican take the business of locating an individual to an even higher level, canvassing neighbors and conducting thorough searches hoping to turn up any trace of the person.  Conducting interviews and following a trail can eventually lead to the individual, at which time they can be served.

While being a process server sometimes means that the address of the individual is provided, it can also mean that additional work is necessary to locate the subject. For service of process to be effectuated, the server must perform due diligence in attempting to locate this person.  Once a process server has completed that (and the expectations of due diligence and steps following this differ from state to state) the subpoena will be able to be served. 

 

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