Process Server Tips Archives - DGR Legal

Process Servers: How To Deal With Police

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process servers and policeAs a process server, there is the chance a subject will say they are going to call the police. Here are several potential situations you may run into and how to deal with them.

This information is originally from the NYSPPSA Conference and was presented by Bernard Hughes.

Situation: The subject says you’re trespassing and you need to leave the property.

Your response should be: 

Leave.  Don’t stay on the property for another second, as once the individual tells you that you are trespassing on private property you can face criminal charges if it’s someone’s private residence. Businesses can be a grey area, but you are better off leaving the property and eliminating any potential liability.

Situation: The subject says you need to leave the property and they are going to call the police.

Your response should be:

Leave the property but make sure to wait for the police officer to arrive. If you don’t stay, the police officer only gets one side of the story and you may need to deal with the situation later. Getting to speak with the officer as the situation occurs will only help you so you can explain why you were at the premises. It may in fact help you, as some officers will be encouraged to assist you in getting the individual served.

If you have been waiting for some time and the police officer doesn’t show, you may want to call the station to check that the officer is not on their way before you leave. Sometimes people say they are going to call and don’t follow through, but on the chance they have you should double check.

If you don’t feel safe waiting near the location of the subject, you can call the local station and explain the situation. You can ask if the responding officer can meet you at another location.

Situation: Your interaction with the subject turns into a physical altercation.

Your response should be:

Defend yourself only to the extent necessary while trying to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. As soon as you can, call the local police.

There have been situations where the police will not file charges. If you truly believe that the situation is grievous enough to warrant charges, you can request for them to call a supervisor. If they refuse or say their supervisor is not available, you can request a copy of the report. Once you have the report you can go to the District Attorney or town attorney for the area where the incident occurred to pursue charges.


Above all in any of these situations, always be professional. Yelling, being rude or escalating the situation will never help your case.

UPDATE 1/18/2016: In response to the feedback of other process services and the experiences of DGR’s own process servers, it should be noted that when individuals say they are going to call the police, this can actually be a good thing for the server. As Randy Mucha from Firefly Legal says “I’m happy to have an uncooperative defendant call the police so they can then verify the caller’s identity and witness the service. Makes for a solid affidavit”.

What has been your experience dealing with police as a process server? Do you have any tips for other servers?


Earth Day Inspired Driving Tips for Process Servers

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driving tips for process serversAs process servers, part of the job description includes driving. And then some more driving.

Since today is Earth Day, we thought we’d share some tips with you on how you can conserve fuel even when some days require you to travel hundreds of miles.

Clean out your car.

We all have used our cars as somewhat of a storage space at some point, particularly in the summer when you tend to leave the beach chairs and camping equipment in the trunk for the next time you’ll use them. Unless you’re using the items on a daily basis though, take them out of your car to help conserve fuel. Every extra 100 pounds of weight reduces fuel economy by 1%.

Replace your tires/make sure they are properly inflated

Under-inflated tires can increase your rolling resistance and bring your mileage down by 0.3% for every 1psi drop in pressure. Take the time to check your tire pressure weekly.

Change your oil.

Replacing your oil is  not only great for helping to extend the life of your vehicle, but also helps with fuel economy.

Replace your air filter

Along with your oil, your air filter should be changed regularly. Air filters can become clogged with bugs, dust and dirt which results in too much fuel being burned for the amount of air, wasting fuel and causing your engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.

Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration and braking

Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking all contribute to wasting gas, lowering your gas mileage by up to 33% at highway speeds and 5% around town.

While avoiding driving isn’t a possibility as a process server, there are certain things which can be done to increase fuel efficiency and reduce the impact on the environment. Have any more suggestions? Let us know below.


Happy Earth Day!


Should Process Servers Record While Serving?

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process-servers-recordShould process servers record while serving? That question has been one of big debate in the past in the process service industry.

Two cases in the last two years show why some consider recording to be so important.

The most recent case is downright scary. Douglas Dendinger, who was only acting as a process server for this one job and $50 agreed to serve a police officer. Dendinger completed the service with a group of police officers and attorneys nearby. Twenty minutes after he completed the serve, the police showed up at his door and arrested him for simply battery and two felonies: obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness.

The two felonies carry a maximum of 20 years in prison each. Dendinger originally thought the charges would be dropped since so many people saw that nothing had happened. Yet two of the prosecutors who had been there gave statements stating Dendinger had assaulted the police office he was serving.

The only thing that saved Dedinger from some serious jail time was a video the accusers didn’t know he had – the recording his wife and nephew had made of the entire scene, showing none of the claims actually occurred.

Without that recording Dendinger would have been in jail for a long time, potentially decades.

Scary stuff.

In another case from two years ago, a process server, Steve Hartman, was serving a judge in a court house. A sergeant, deputy, attorney and Judge Layne Walker all signed affidavits stating Hartman tried to push past the deputy to serve the judge. Hartman was arrested for disorderly conduct. Yet Hartman claimed that’s not what happened.

Again, a video recording showed the process server was telling the truth.

Both cases involved government officials and members of the legal community multiple people collaborating to fabricate a story against the process servers. Thankfully both had the foresight to record these services. Yet even with the recording they both spent a considerable amount of money defending themselves in these cases.

While there are pros and cons to recording while serving, these two cases show how recording can help avoid a world of trouble.

Take a look at the full article about Dendinger:


Dangerous Services: When “Lightweight” Matters

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Generally serving someone titled a “lightweight” wouldn’t cause a server to worry too much. That is unless lightweight is part of a title such as “reigning North American Boxing Federation lightweight” or “No. 1-ranked fighter among lightweights”, as was the case in our one of our recent services.

One of our servers was tasked with the job of serving this individual. While there was no history of violence (outside of the arena that is) thought of having to serve one of the best fighters in the world can be a little daunting. But serve him we did.

What has been your toughest or craziest serve to date? How do you prepare for what you anticipate being a difficult serve? Although we know the ones we’re warned about tend to be no problem, it’s the ones without the warning that can be trouble!


Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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After writing our last blog article about how shows such as All Worked Up portray process servers in a way that isn’t true, I started thinking about all the ways in which process servers have seemed to take on an unfavorable impression in the eyes of the public over the years.  Combined with the nice note John Perez (attorney and owner of NJ Legal Process Service) sent out a couple days ago in regard to Independence Day, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the process servers role in due process it seems that many simply don’t understand the role of a process server.

When people think of process servers, they think of someone coming to the door with a pizza box to deliver bad news.  While this is all true and there are sometimes disguises involved and the news is generally not the greatest, it’s not as though delivering this news is a joyful task.  Process servers are the messengers, ensuring that individuals are aware of any legal actions that they are a part of.

Who wants to come home one day to a lock on their house with an eviction notice, simply because they weren’t notified of the foreclosure proceedings against them? Who wants to find out their wage has been garnished because of an outstanding debt they were unaware of?  Not one person would want to go through this. And that’s where we come in, making sure that the person is involved, able to speak up and take actions through the necessary avenues.

Once you explain this to a person, their view seems to change (as it should!).  We might have to deliver some bad news, but we’re not the bad guys.  We’re here to help honor an individual’s right to due process.



No Fee, No Serve Structure Gaining National Attention

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Last week we posted about the videos Serve-Now put up from the conference.  They devoted an article to their 7 Major Challenges Process Servers are Facing video and what came in at #6 but no serve, no fee structures.  As John Klein, a California process server who has written several books on process serving procedures, notes in a recent news article:

“Part of the problem, and I’m not saying that this justifies bad service, is that the business of process serving is to just send paper out with a server and see how cheap they can do it,” Klein said. “Some companies out there pay a flat rate to drive the cost down – they don’t pay for non-service or not-founds, and they are inducing people to fudge.” (Sacramento Bee)

We’ve written about this topic previously  but it’s important to note that this issue is now garnering significant attention.  The article John is quoted in is about another situation surrounding sewer service.  The company mentioned does not necessarily utilize this business model, but it goes to show that these issues are still arising. 

In order to eliminate this type of negative press we must get rid of anything that provides an incentive toward this type of service, especially with our national association and so many individuals working hard to show the quality of our industry.




NAPPS Convention: Ethical Business Practices? She Wrote the Book On It

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We all strive to be as ethical as possible, especially these days as our industry faces intense scrutiny in the wake of issues of sewer service and heightened regulations. NAPPS had Kitty Hailey in to speak on the topic, an advocate of professionalism who literally wrote the books on ethics.  Author of The Code of Professional Conduct: Stands and Ethics for the Investigative Profession, Kitty has been named New Jersey Investigator of the Year and speaks around the country.

One of Kitty’s main speaking points was how you shouldn’t be giving away ANY of your work or expertise for free.  For those of you who have read our article on how we feel about free process service, Kitty’s speech was directly in line with our thoughts (and we didn’t even talk to her beforehand!).  She made the excellent point that as process servers, we have a skill and knowledge that others don’t.

As a part of process serving, the ability to locate new addresses is an often underestimated source of potential revenue for process servers.  Without this information, the clients would often be unable to move forward or would have a difficult time performing such searches on their own.  Kitty’s advice: Rather than giving away information for free, realize that you offer a valuable service and charge accordingly.

You can read more information on Kitty at


NAPPS Convention: Internet Marketing for Process Servers

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On Saturday Ayla Crippen, a Senior Internet Marketing Consultant at Reach Local, conducted a seminar on “The Best of the Best in Online Marketing”.  She was a fantastic speaker who provided a ton of great information that we’d like to pass on to you.  You can follow her on Twitter at @AylaCrippenIMC.

Where are you on the web?

Ayla continually touched on the topic of where your business is on the web.  More and more people are using online searches as their first option for answering the questions, including where they can find a process server in a given area.

Hire a professional

As a small business owner it can be worth the investment to hire a professional such as an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant to boost your search engine rankings.  Before beginning decide what you expect the outcome to be and discuss this with whoever you hire to make sure you are clear on anticipated results.  While some results may require a higher investment, your consultant should be able to clearly let you know what can be accomplished within a given budget.  As you move along, continually monitor your results.

The results that turn up on a search engine page, called organic results, are where an SEO consultant can help you out by moving you up in rank. Another option is to utilize ads, particularly Google Adwords.  You can pay for listings to show up for certain search keywords and have the option of PPC (pay per click) or PPI (pay per time user sees you ad).

Online reputation

Many sites offer the option to leave a recommendation, such as Yelp or Google.  The first step is to make sure that the information under such accounts is listed correctly and to claim your listing as the owner.  For Google, here is their business listings section where you can learn how to claim your listing:

Once that’s done the next step is to gather recommendations. Invite your clients to do this and offer them an incentive to do so, such as 10% off their next service.  While we all provide the absolute best process service we can, there are bound to be one or two bad recommendations. As they say, you can’t make everyone happy.  The key is to get plenty of recommendations stacked on top of these so they are pushed back in date, making it less likely a potential customer will see the negative response.


Did you know 80% of customers abandon a mobile site if they have a bad user experience? It’s imperative these days to have a mobile site that is easy to navigate. Ayla provided a great resource called Go Mo which creates a mobile site for you and gives you free premium service for a year. We’ve created our mobile site using this already and couldn’t be happier with the ease of use and the results!

Stay tuned for the next part of the NAPPS Convention Series: Kitty Hailey & Ethical Business Practices!



Beware of Dog! 9 Tips Every Process Server Should Know

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In previous articles we’ve talked about the threat of assault that exists to process servers and what should be a goal of every state to make this a felony.  But what about when the attack doesn’t come from an individual but from an animal?  A Florida process server was in the news this week after a couple set their dog on her while she was attempting to serve papers.

Be cautious of homes which have a “Beware of Dog” sign.  Here are some tips if you happen to encounter a strange dog:

1. Make noise when you enter a property so your presence does not startle the dog. Walk confidently but slowly. Animals can sense fear, so stay calm.

2. Approach the animal VERY slowly. Do what you can to appear as small as possible and hopefully less intimidating, if you can walk up to it with your shoulder facing it, but remember to stay attentive. Do not get down on your hands and knees, it will make it harder for you to get away if the animal decides to attack. Only come within 10-15 feet of the animal.

3. Allow the animal to make the final approach once you are close. Call to it in a soothing voice and try to get the animal to come to you. Put out your hand, gently pat the ground, and you can also toss the animal food, throw the food to the side and not directly at the animal.

4. Avoid prolonged eye contact. Look to one side of the dog rather than staring it down. Dogs consider this to be a sign of domination. They interpret it as a kind of challenge and it can cause the dog to think you want to fight.

5. Hold out your hand so that the back of your hand is facing the animal. This is less threatening to most animals, and also lessens the chances of your fingers being bitten.

6. Observe the animal’s body language if it does not approach. For dogs you may VERY slowly start to take a few small steps toward the animal if it seems friendly but just shy.

7.       Stay calm and slowly back away if a dog  snarls or bares its teeth. Do not run!

8.       Remain motionless as the animal sniffs at your hand.

9. Allow the animal to finish its examination of your hand and then slowly move your hand from the front of its face to just behind one of its ears, and scratch or pet gently. Remember that many animals have areas that they do not like having touched, so go slowly.

Process Server tips

If there is any indication the dog may be aggressive (raised hair, bared teeth, growling):

– Stop and stand still. Do not make eye contact, yell or wave your arms. Remember, staring an aggressive dog in the eyes is a challenge. Do not turn and run away.

– If the dog doesn’t relax, softly command it to “sit” or “stay.” Do not yell.  Instead use a soft, soothing tone of voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only spur on the dog.

– Hold out your briefcase, book, clipboard or anything else you might be carrying if the dog begins to attack. When the dog bites it, do not let go. Dogs will usually stop attacking if the attack has no effect.




Legal Professionals: 3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Process Server

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When using a private process server there are a number of things legal professionals can do to ensure the fastest and most efficient turn-around time possible, particularly when due diligence is necessary.  Even the most proficient and adept process servers know there are certain pieces of information that can help speed up effectuating service.

1.  If you are attempting service at home or work, see if your client knows when the subject will be at that location.

For example, if we know the subject works from 9-6 and usually goes to the gym afterward for an hour, then we will attempt service after 7:30pm.  This minimizes the number of attempts which will need to be made, but more importantly will produce a higher chance of the individual being served, moving the case forward.

2. When due diligence is necessary, ALWAYS send in the driver’s license number if it available.

With a driver’s license number, depending on the state, Motor Vehicle searches can be completed online, giving a turn-around time of 2-3 days. New Jersey has this service available and it is extremely efficient. Without the driver’s license number, a request for a report must be mailed to the Motor Vehicle office and can take up to 3 weeks!  That’s a lot of time that could have been saved by simply including the driver’s license number.

3. If you know that you would like the process server to attempt service at an alternate location if the subject is not at the initial address, be sure to include this in the original cover letter.

If no other address is given, the scenario goes like this: the server attempts service at a residential address  and then comes back to the office and notifies you that the individual is not at the location.  You provide an alternate address and if possible the server attempts service later in the day but if not, the service must wait until the following day.  By providing a new address the situation then becomes one where the server can simply go from original location to the next available address, cutting down on the amount of time it takes to complete the service.

All of the above are tips meant to help you speed up the time in which your process service or due diligence is completed (and to move your case along as quickly as possible!).  If you have any other suggestions feel free to comment and share them!