Process Server Standards Archives - DGR Legal

What New Jersey Law Firms Need To Know About E-Filing & Vendors

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vendor e-filing New Jersey

There are currently vendors offering a variety of e-filing services, from filing affidavits to filing the initial action. Here’s what every law firm, attorney and paralegal needs to know when using these types of services.

E-filing logins

E-Court logins in New Jersey will only be made available to attorneys in good standing. No vendor, paralegal or other type of individual will be given logins and the Courts have no plan to do so.

This means to file any pleading related to a case, the attorney’s specific login must be used.

The Court’s view

The Court has made clear it is purposely not taking a stance on the issue. At a recent meeting  attended by DGR, Elisabeth Ann Strom, Esq. of the New Jersey Judiciary stated the Court is not taking a position but stressed the attorney whose credentials are used to login will be liable for whatever document is filed.

Possible ramifications

There are many issues which could arise when individuals outside of the law firm use an attorney’s login.

The first potential issue comes down to human error. The process to upload documents to the E-Courts website is completely manual, which inherently creates the opportunity for incorrect documents to be uploaded and/or filed. This means an incorrect pleading could be filed for that case or even a document which has nothing to do with that case or that client. If an incorrect document is filed the attorney must file a motion and pay a $50 fee to have it removed. The Court considers the document to be part of the record for that case, so to remove it there must be a trail indicating the document existed in the first place.

Regardless of who files the pleading –  attorney, paralegal or vendor – the Court will hold the individual attorney whose credentials were used liable.

The second issue is the possibility of personal identifying information residing in part of the case documents. Any document uploaded to the system is public, with the exception of the criminal division where documents can be assigned a confidentiality level. The importance of removing information such as social security numbers and addresses prior to uploading becomes higher than ever, as there is no third party review prior to the documents becoming available to the public. The repercussions for leaving such information in a document could expose an attorney up to potential HIPPA or Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act violations.

When a vendor logs in to the E-Court to file a pleading on behalf of the attorney, the vendor not only has access to the Law and Chancery Divisions but also to the Criminal Division. Any pleadings filed for the attorney’s client in all Court Divisions become accessible to the vendor, whether they are sealed, privileged or not. The vendor has full access to the case just as the attorney would as well as any other cases in all the Court Divisions in which the attorney has represented that client.

What law firms need to know

When choosing whether to have a vendor e-file on behalf of the law firm, be aware of the possible repercussions. The attorney is liable for missed deadlines, misfiled documents, the release of privileged information, etc.  The Courts lack of an official opinion means at any point the Court’s decision could change leaving those attorneys who allow vendors to use their logins at risk to what could be interpreted as negligent behavior by the attorney resulting in sanctions or other forms of discipline. Risks also include the possibility of missing deadlines, misfiling documents and HIPPA/GLBA violations.

Before choosing to allow a vendor to e-file, the firm should carefully weigh the decision.

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Tennessee Judge’s Decision Highlights Importance of PROFESSIONAL Process Servers

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professional process servers

The recent decision of a Tennessee Judge to direct all work from private process servers to the Sheriff’s Office in Knox county highlights why it’s so important for process servers to be professional at all times.

Judge Chuck Cerny halted private process servers from serving after an incident where a process server “harassed and scared someone in the middle of the night”.  The process server was unidentified and as a result the Judge has taken action against all private process servers in the county.

“I just felt like doing something kind of immediate in response to this one particular incident was justified at this time”, said Cerny.

The importance of professionalism

Cerny’s swift response shows the significant impact the actions of just one process server can have on an entire industry and the livelihood of private process servers. More than ever, it is important for process servers to behave professionally no matter what situation arises. Attempting service in the middle of the night, unless the subject has arranged for the meeting, is generally uncalled for. For example, at DGR service isn’t attempted before 6am or after 10pm for litigation matters.

Regardless of the hour service is attempted, if a subject calls the police and claims to be harassed it is very important for the process server to speak with the authorities. Often times there are two sides to a story and when a process server goes unidentified it leaves only one-side to be heard, which can leave process servers as a whole looking bad.

The future of process servers in Knox County

Private process servers will be allowed to serve again after they have undergone a court-sanctioned procedure which has not yet been specified. 70% of the documents that need to be served generally go through private process servers, so the Sheriff’s office will see a significant increase in workload. But it’s clear the Judge’s actions were motivated by the understandable desire to protect the citizens of Knox County and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Keys to staying professional

Private process servers can stay professional, and keep our industry in a positive light, by:

  • Attempting service during reasonable hours
  • Never presenting themselves as anything other than process servers without the appropriate designation
  • Keeping calm even in the face of a hostile subject
  • If a subject calls the police, removing themselves to a safe location and awaiting their arrival to ensure both sides of the story are heard
  • Keeping up on training of local procedures, rules and laws
  • Being a part of professional associations

Private process servers play an important role in the legal system, but we all have to remember how quickly the actions of one person could change everything for an entire industry. Not only must we ourselves stay professional but we have to also encourage our fellow process servers to do the same.

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Beware of Paper Brokers: Do You Know Who Your Process Server Is?

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paper broker

Do you know whose really handing your process service?

Many companies are popping up within New Jersey and across the country, claiming to be experts in the process service industry. Often offering to handle your services for a low rate or with no charge for a non-serve, these companies act simply as the middle man between accepting your services and then distributing them to independent contractors they have little control over.

The Issue

The largest problem with this type of business practice is the number of individuals who are handling service without training and specific knowledge of the rules and laws.

By the very legal definition of independent contractors, those who use them cannot implement training or specifications as to how they should complete their work. This means these independent contractors can’t be told how to serve, when to serve or what ethical grounds to stand on.

Beyond the issue of the independent contractors being utilized by these paper brokers, these type of companies also lack the in-house knowledge to catch any errors before service is sent out.

There are times when service packets are sent in without all of the proper documents. With an experienced process service company, the office should catch these issues and relay them back to you prior to the service being sent out. This saves considerable time and provides a safety net when it comes to making sure services are considered valid and will be accepted by the court.

Without training and knowledge of the service rules and nuances related to due diligence, the quality of service is considerably lessened and also puts at risk the ability for private process servers to effectuate service. Should these process servers complete improper sewer service, the court could see this as a reason to put into place stricter rules surrounding the use of private process servers, as New York has done.

How To Tell

How do you know if a company is actually handling the services themselves or simply farming the work out to independent contractors?

One tell-tale sign is the lack of information about the history of the company or the people behind the operations on a website. Another is having a PO Box listed as the business address or a 1-800 number as the only listed phone number.

 

Be sure you know who is truly handling your process service. Is it a paper broker using independent contractors or an experienced process service company with employees?

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What You Need In A New Jersey Process Server

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New Jersey process serverNew Jersey process servers play an important role in protecting due process rights and establishing jurisdiction in a case.

If you’re using a New Jersey process server, make sure they:

Know the rules

Getting a service completed quickly is always a good thing, but when it’s done within the rules and laws of proper service, you can run the risk of the court rejecting the service. This can result in missing deadlines, needing to re-file motions or even the entire case or having statutes of limitations expire.

Utilize employees, not independent contractors

Many process service companies not just in New Jersey but across the country utilize independent contractors rather than employees. The issue with companies utilizing independent contractors mean that according to the legal definition of what one can or cannot do when dealing with an independent contractor, these servers are not allowed to be trained, told how to serve or when to serve.

If you use a company like DGR who has employees on staff (and who are all Certified Process Servers), you can be sure they are trained and are sure to give you the best service possible.

Are ethical

Being ethical is always important when it comes to any profession, but in situations where legal matters are being decided it can be of even greater importance. For example, if a process server attempts service at a residence and the individual who answers the door says the subject hasn’t lived there in three months, the process server can’t simply serve the papers because they believe the person lives there. What if the subject truly did move? To serve the papers simply because that is the easy thing to do is a violation of the subject’s due process rights – and extremely unethical.

Always choose a process server that will make the ethical decision, and one that will stand up in court, every time.

Get the job done quickly

Your process server should be aware of timelines and the necessity to serve documents as quickly and efficiently as possible. No matter what type of law you practice this applies.

Getting the job done quickly not only ensures you are meeting deadlines for documents such as subpoenas and motions, but also that your clients are satisfied with the timeline of the case.

Are responsive and customer service oriented

No matter what your question, your process server should respond in a timely fashion. If you have as question or a matter which needs attention, then it is an important item which should be addressed immediately. You shouldn’t feel your bothering your process server when you call or need to call more than once to get a status update on a file.

 

With DGR, we have everything you need in your New Jersey process server. Ethical employees who make sure your service is completed quickly are ready to help with any service you might have. Contact us to get started.

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The NY Ruling Every Attorney & Process Server Should Be Paying Attention To

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Process serving ruling

An investigation into $800 million of default judgments entered because of fraudulent affidavits of service has resulted in a ruling that attorneys all over the country should be paying close attention to.

The bottom line: as an attorney, you and your firm can be held responsible if a process server handling your service files a false affidavit of service.

In addition to a $59 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit and a major network of collectors being barred from continuing the practice, the process service company responsible for the fraudulent affidavits, Samserv Inc., has been required to start paying process servers the same amount for unsuccessful attempts as successful ones.

Why did the court do that and what does this mean for attorneys?

The court and advocates have stated that the unfair pay rates put pressure on the process servers to lie if the notice was actually served.

While not being charged for a non-serve sounds great, the court has recognized the problem this pay-scale encourages. If the company isn’t getting paid for a non-serve, then the process server isn’t either. The law firm which used SamServ was personally named as a defendant in the class-action lawsuit, holding them accountable for utilizing a process service company  who engaged in false service.

The fraudulent affidavits involved individuals who hadn’t lived at a particular address for more than ten years, subjects who had been deceased for years and others who had been at work with viable alibis at the time of service.

Law firms and attorneys need to be careful when choosing a process server who doesn’t pay their process servers equal pay for served and non-served notices. The results of this practice in New York ignited a class-action lawsuit and a resulted in a $59 million settlement, a long list of compliance requirements for NYC process servers and overturned over 100,000 judgments.

Buyer beware.

Check out the full New York Times article that discusses the case and the impact of non-payment for a non-serve has on the quality of process service: click here.

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National Due Process Day Is Here!

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HappyNationalDueProcessWishing you all a Happy National Due Process Day!

We’re excited to be celebrating the role process servers play in helping to protect Americans due process rights.

We encourage you to help spread the word about today and what it stands for. We’ve created a post explaining what the day is all about and how process servers work to make sure everyone is guaranteed a fair trial.

You can also share the image on your Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media accounts with a link to this post along with the #DueProcessDay hashtag.

Enjoy your National Due Process Day!

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The Role of Due Diligence in Due Process

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due diligence in due processDue diligence helps to protect every American’s right to due process, protected by the 5th and 14th amendments.

Due diligence is required in service of process, which means a diligent effort must be made to effectively serve the appropriate individual. Attorneys can pursue alternate methods of service, such as mail or e-mail, if the traditional method has failed to result in effectuated service. However, a judge will not approve alternate service unless the attorney can prove due diligence and a good faith effort at service.

Without  the due diligence requirement, an attorney could claim they attempted service twice at an address an individual was known to reside at 5 years ago and then mail the service. As part of due diligence, an attorney will likely be required to provide adequate evidence they have attempted to locate an updated address for the individual.

Judges will take into consideration the cost of an extended search as well as they type of case. For example, in a divorce proceeding where the wife has not seen the husband in the past two years the judge will usually require an effort to locate an updated address. Should service fail at the updated address service via publication is usually granted without much argument.

The right to due process guarantees everyone’s right to a fair trial, and due diligence means individuals are being adequately attempted to be notified of any matter they are involved in. This notification provides individuals with the opportunity to take action and be aware of the situation rather than being caught off guard.

Without due diligence, it is entirely possible to see judgments being entered where the defendant has no knowledge or homes being foreclosed on while the homeowners who were renting out to tenants received no proper notification.

Want to know more about process servers’ role in the right to due process? Learn more about National Due Process Day, a whole day devoted to the part process servers play in this very important right.

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National Due Process Day Is Coming

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National Due Process Day - September 25thNational Due Process Day is almost here!

National Due Process Day is coming up on September 25th. The purpose of this day is to recognize the role process servers play in the justice system by protecting an individual’s right to due process.

While some may see process servers in a negative light, process servers help give people a chance to challenge and prepare for any action against them, including foreclosure , divorce proceedings, lawsuits and monetary claims and the potential to collect on old judgments and liens.

How to show your support

Want to show support? Post this image on your website. Simply copy and paste the following into your site code:

<a href=”https://www.dgrlegal.com/process-server-standards/national-due-process-day-september-25th/”><img src=”https://www.dgrlegal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/WebsitePatch_NationalDueProcessDay.png” alt=”National Due Process Day” width=”150″ height=”150″ border=”0″></a>

You can also share the image on your Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media accounts with a link to this post along with the #DueProcessDay hashtag. Meant for the general public, the post explains what Due Process Day is and the importance of a process server to due process rights.

Spread the word and show how process servers help protect Americans due process rights!

Check out this video the National Association of Professional Process Servers put together back in 2012 when they first introduced National Due Process Day.

 

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National Due Process Day – September 25th

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National Due Process Day – September 25th, 2015

National Due Process Day - September 25thWhat is National Due Process Day?

The purpose of this day is to recognize the role process servers play in the justice system by protecting an individual’s right to due process.

Aren’t process servers always bearers of bad news? Shouldn’t I be running away?

Process servers often do bring news of foreclosure, divorce proceedings and lawsuits. While not the best of news, by doing so they are protecting your right to due process and a fair trial.

Running away won’t stop the case from moving forward. If a process server can’t serve you or a member of your household, the court will issue approval for alternate service methods such as mail and publication in a local newspaper to be used in place. Once those are completed the case will still move forward.

The difference is you’re physically receiving the documents relating to a case you are somehow involved in. Knowing what is happening allows you to defend yourself and decide what steps to take, rather than taking no action and finding the case has been resolved without your participation, resulting in a judgment against you or even foreclosure.

As process servers, we want to make sure you know what is going on so you have the right to be involved and treated in fairness in accordance with your court rules and your due process rights.

Why September 25th?

The 5th amendment was introduced on September 25th. Along with the 14th amendment, the 5th helps to protect due process rights of all Americans and preserve the right to a fair trial.

 

Help spread the word about National Due Process Day and share this with your friends, family and co-workers! We have some handy tools below you can click you easily share a link.

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Can You Serve Someone In Prison?

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serve someone in prisonCan you serve someone in prison? Many people think not, but the truth is you can absolutely serve a subject who is in prison.

There are pros and cons to serving a subject who incarcerated, but at the end of the day service can usually be effectuated.

Serving an individual in prison means we have an accurate address for them and they are going to be at that address for a determined amount of time.  This is a benefit in an industry where individuals can evade service by simply not returning home for a number of days, keeping an extremely irregular schedule or can be difficult to find due to frequent moves.

Despite being in prison however, an inmate can refuse to see a visitor. This means while a process server can go to a prison and attempt service, if the prisoner refuses to come meet an unknown visitor then service cannot be effectuated. In these cases alternate methods of services can usually be pursued but the courts will generally require an attempt at personal service prior to any alternate methods.

It’s also important for a process server must be aware of the rules of a particular prison and its warden, and the best ways to attempt service. Since the increase in security regulations in recent years in prisons, many facilities have changed their procedures and having a process server who is familiar with the procedures of different prisons can help facilitate completing service.

Need to serve someone who is currently in prison? DGR has plenty of experience with the process. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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