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Why Due Diligence Is So Important In Process Service

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due diligence process serviceIn order to pursue alternate service methods, it is always required to prove due diligence has been completed in attempting to serve an individual or entity. This means efforts have been made to serve the individual as well as to locate them if an accurate address has not been obtained.

Why is this so important?

Otherwise a process server could make one attempt, declare a non-serve and the attorney could petition for alternate service. After a month of publications an individual who did indeed live at the address where service was attempted but was at work could find their wages garnished as a result of a judgment they didn’t know they had against them or their house seized when they didn’t know they were in foreclosure.

Due diligence is an important aspect of process service. Not only is it necessary to make multiple attempts at a residence during different times of the day (early morning, afternoon and evening), but it is also important to try to locate an alternate address for service if there is confirmation the address is incorrect. The property could be vacant, a neighbor or tenant could say the individual no longer lives there – whatever the way a process server finds out that person no longer lives at that address, there is a responsibility on the part of the plaintiff to seek another address to serve the individual at.

There are times when it is impossible to find an individual without incurring a high cost, when they have made an active effort to hide their tracks. In those cases a judge will generally grant approval to serve by alternate methods, whether by mail or publication. In some rare cases service by social media has also been allowed.

Before that can happen though, a process server must ensure they have made every effort to complete due diligence in their service by making multiple attempts at different times of the day.

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How a Notary Can Perform Electronic Notarization

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New Jersey notaryElectronic notarization, also known as e-notarization, is a way for notaries to sign and acknowledge electronic documents. It is essentially the same as the notary signing a piece of paper, but makes it a little easier when it comes to documents such as Word files or PDFs. Through this method a notary uses an electronic signature and notary seal using a secure Public key to an electronic document.

E-notarization does not mean the signer need not be present in front of the notary. The individual must still be physically present before the notary in order to legally complete the electronic notarization.

Not all states allow e-notarization. Those who do permit electronic notarization do so under a variety of different acts and rules, including the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA), the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) and state specific laws and rules.

The Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA) was completed in 1999.  The UETA created equal legal status between electronic paperwork and signatures and those which involve paper, with electronic signatures defined as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record”. Not all states have adopted the UETA or allow electronic notarization.

Certain states have specific laws and rules as to e-notarization. These states are:

  • Arizona (statutes)
  • Colorado (rules)
  • Florida (statutes)
  • Kansas (program)
  • Minnesota (statutes)
  • North Carolina (statutes, rules)
  • Pennsylvania (program)
  • Utah (rules)

The following is a list of the states allowing electronic notarization and what rules, acts or statutes permit notaries to do so:

  • Alabama: UETA
  • Arkansas: UETA with rules effective 1/1/2014
  • California: UETA and Code 27391(e)
  • Colorado: UETA and specific notary statutes and rules
  • Florida: UETA, notary statute and notary administrative rules
  • Iowa: UETA and RULONA
  • Maryland: UETA
  • Minnesota: UETA and notary statutes
  • North Carolina: UETA, notary statute and notary administrative rules
  • Oregon: UETA, RULONA and administrative rules
  • Pennsylvania: UETA and pilot program
  • Texas: UETA
  • Utah: UETA
  • Vermont: UETA
  • Virginia: UETA, specific notary law
  • West Virginia: RULONA and rules effective 6/30/2014

Looking for a New Jersey notary? DGR can help. Contact us today for our rates.

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How Can a New Jersey Process Server Help You?

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New Jersey process serverWhen you need to a serve a summons and complaint, subpoena or order to show cause, you have two options when it comes to serving them upon the subject. A New Jersey process server could be the right option for you.

Sheriff

When serving, one can utilize the Sheriff’s department to complete their service task. There are some limitations when it comes to using the Sheriff’s department, through no fault of theirs. Sheriffs have a wide array of responsibilities, so serving someone within a few days of receiving documents is not at the top of their priority list. Generally using the sheriff for service can take a month at least.

Given the other responsibilities of the Sheriff, it can also be difficult to get in touch with them to obtain a status update. By the very nature of their job and hours, most attempts are made between 9-5. This can present problems when attempting to serve subjects who work during those hours.

New Jersey process server

New Jersey process servers handle services on a daily basis. This is their sole job and they have the time, knowledge and expertise to complete your service quickly.

Because this is the primary line of work, New Jersey process servers can make attempts outside of the 9-5 hours in an effort to serve individuals before they leave for work or once they return home. It also means service is attempted much more quickly and frequently. For example, DGR has an average turn-around time of 3 days within New Jersey.

Additionally, they are to respond in a timely fashion to any requests for status updates.

Cost

Another difference between the Sheriff and a New Jersey process server is the cost. A survey by ServeNow of legal professionals including paralegals and attorneys found the average cost of the Sheriff to be $39.58 and the average cost of a private process server to be $53.99. For an extra $14.41, one can hire a private process server to serve their documents in a more timely fashion within the hours the subject is likely to be home.

When it comes to serving a document, would you choose a New Jersey process server or the sheriff?

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Texas Process Servers Soon To Have Legal Code of Conduct

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Texas process serverThe Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC) of Texas has been asked to create and recommend a code of ethics for each profession the JBCC regulates. This recommendation will go to the Supreme Court of Texas.

The Texas Process Servers Association (TPSA) has recently put out an email alerting its members to the 30 day comment period for the proposed Process Server Code of Conduct. The period for comments will be open until March 13, 2015 and all comments can be sent to jbcc@txcourts.gov.

The code of conduct calls for:

  • Respect to be shown by the process server
  • Accurate returns/honesty
  • Process servers to not work in any other capacity for law firms they are serving documents for
  • Objectivity on the part of the process server
  • Continuing education

An interesting part of the codes of conduct calls for process server to not serve in a suit, as it “would cause a distinct appearance of impropriety”.  It also states a process server must not exaggerate his authority or position with a court.

Some of the items the proposed code of conduct calls for are uniform across other states. For example, under the code process servers cannot wear a law enforcement uniform or display a law enforcement badge or a badge that resembles one.

The JBCC has not yet indicated what fines or penalties will be associated with breaking any part of the code of ethics.

For a full copy of the proposed Process Server Code of Conduct click here. To send your comments, send them by March 13th to jbcc@txcourts.gov.

 

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5 Things That Happened in Process Service in 2014

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Process Service 20142015 saw some interesting legislation changes as well as the continuation of NYC issues with the DCA. Let’s take a look at 5 things that happened in process service in 2014.

Florida almost loses private process server program in Orange County

In August, the Sheriff’s Department of Orange County, one of the largest counties in Florida, announced they would be phasing out the private process server program. Thankfully due to the work of FAPPS and other process servers, Chief Judge Lauten signed an administrative order creating a certified private process server program in Orange County, essentially overriding the Sheriff’s decision.

While private process servers will have to pay a fee, take a written examination and be certified, they will still be able to serve in Orange County as a result.

New York continues DCA battle

New York City process servers and NYSPPSA saw their lawsuit against the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) dismissed in August. The complaint had focused on the subpoenas being issued with express directives to prevent the recipient from notifying anyone, violating the right to counsel among other accusations.

Despite this, New York process servers did score some victories against the DCA this year. A concession was granted allowing process servers who failed the required exam to find out which questions they answered incorrectly. A grace period was also granted to process servers back in February when the DCA failed to send out license renewals with adequate time to respond.

Florida process servers get easier access to service at work

An amendment to a Florida statute passed this year will make it easier for process servers to serve at an individual’s place of work. The statute states Florida employers must allow the service of process on an employee or face a fine.

Illinois process servers gain access to gated communities

Thanks to passed SB 3286 Illinois process servers now have access to gated communities while serving.

New York assault bill placed on hold

While New York successfully saw a bill making assault on a process server a felony pass the Senate, it was not placed on the Assembly’s agenda for this year. It is hoped to be voted on next year.

 Let’s see what 2015 brings for the process service industry. Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2015

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Judge Overrides Sheriff’s Department, Signs Order for Certified Process Server Program

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process serverA Chief Judge in Florida has signed an administrative order creating a Certified Process Server program allowing private process servers in Orange County, Florida, alleviating concerns over previous plans to phase out the private process server program.

In August, the Sheriff’s Department of Orange County had announced plans to phase out the private process server program, with the program being terminated on December 31st. The order signed by Chief Judge Lauten of the 9th Judicial District will override this statement and create the opportunity for private process servers to continue serving in Orange County , as well as Osceola County where the private process server program is also set to be discontinued.

The Florida Association of Professional Process Servers (FAPPS) worked alongside the Judge and his staff to help create the program. The program will require all private process servers to be registered in order to serve.

New applicants to the program will be required to:

  • Submit an application along with a fee of $300.00
  • Submit to a background check
  • Pass a written examination with at least 80%
  • Obtain a $5,000.00 performance bond

Renewal applicants will have similar requirements:

  • Submit a renewal application along with a fee of $250.00
  • Submit to a background investigation
  • Pass a written examination with at least 80%
  • Provide proof of a $5,000.00 performance bond

Servers will need to notify the courts if the server is arrested for any criminal crime, including criminal traffic offenses, as well as report any change in home or work address or telephone number.

To view the full order as well as the application and renewal forms, click here.

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How To Choose the Right Family Law Process Server

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The initial serving of matrimonial matters can sometimes be a difficult situation. It is important to know how to choose the right family law process server.

When documents are being served to initiate divorce proceedings, many times emotions are running high and the initiating party would like to avoid confrontation if possible.  There is also the consideration of children in these matters as many parents try to limit their children’s exposure to the divorce process as much as possible.

Because of the many factors involved, the right process server will ask a number of questions to make sure the documents are served at an appropriate time and location. At DGR we have a very specific intake sheet for family law services, making sure we know all of the information needed to not only get the service completed, but to complete it according to the wishes of the firm and their client.

As process servers specializing in family law, we also make sure to get as many details as possible on the subject. The need for multiple attempts can often result in the defendant evading service, which makes an emotional time even more so for the plaintiff.  Having a description, photo and available times all help to ensure service is effectuated on the first attempt.

It’s also important to choose a family law process server who will pay attention to the specific instructions given by the client. In an attempt to avoid the children witnessing the initial service, many plaintiffs will request the process server to not complete or attempt service if they notice there are children in the household at the time. This is clearly something which is important to the client and at DGR we make sure to always accommodate these types of requests, even if it means going back to the residence at another date and time.

Does your current process server do all of the above when handling your family law cases? If not, contact us today to see the difference when using an experienced family law process server.

 

family law process server

 

 

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Why You Should Use An Independent Process Server

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independent process serverIndependent process servers play a vital role in helping to maintain the right to the due process. Not to be confused with necessarily being an independent contractor, independent process servers are those servers who are not directly employed by the courts.

While some independent process servers are court appointed, they are not directly employees of the court. The large majority of private process servers are not court appointed and are contacted directly by law firms.

There a number of reasons why firms should utilize private process servers. A survey back in 2011 by ServeNow of paralegals, legal assistants and legal secretaries clearly revealed why independent process servers should be used over the sheriff’s department. Here are some of the findings:

  • Sheriffs only received 2.55/5 for customer service, while private process servers saw an average rating of 4.28/5
  • 90% of the time independent process servers are faster than the sheriff

78% of all the respondents preferred independent process servers to the sheriff. The average $14 more that private process servers cost is far outweighed by the speed of service and customer service received.

Independent process servers’ sole focus is effectuating service for their clients, whereas the sheriff’s department has a large number of other responsibilities to take care of. Oftentimes service of process takes a back seat to other important duties. When using a private process server, legal professionals can rest assured that their service and satisfaction is a priority.

Take a look at the video ServeNow put together of their survey findings:

Process Server vs Sheriff

 

Next time you are questioning whether or not to use an independent process server, consider the level of service and turn-around time you receive in comparison to the sheriff.

 

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NYC Process Servers Now Allowed to View Missed Exam Questions

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In the fourth success of Larry Yellon and NYSPPSA, NYC process servers scored another concession from the DCA with the recent approval to allow process servers who failed the exam to see missed questions.

The DCA initially stated they would not allow servers to see missed questions and despite multiple letters and requests from Larry Yellon at the end of February, would not give a response on the matter. However shortly after the federal lawsuit against the DCA was filed, a response was received stating the rules would be changed.  The ability to see these missed test answers only applies to those who have failed. Those who have simply missed a few questions but still passed will not be given information about which questions they answered incorrectly.

NYC process servers currently pay $75.00 and are given two chances to pass the exam. If a server fails both exams, they must then pay $415.00 for the license and exams fees if they want to retake the exam.  This change allows New York City process servers a greater opportunity to pass the exam and avoid having to pay additional fees.

Procedure to receive missed questions:

Email ServerTest@dca.nyc.gov with your name, license number and the date (or dates) that you took the test.

Below is the response from the DCA regarding the change:

I write in response to yesterday’s request of Mr. Yellon of the Process Servers Association as to whether the Department can provide an opportunity to process server renewal applicants to review questions incorrectly answered on the process server test.  Please advise Mr. Yellon that the Department has arranged with Pearson, the contractor administering the test,  for some applicants to be able to review the questions they answer incorrectly.  Because of the large number of applicants, only applicants who have failed the test one or more times and have not subsequently passed it will be able to review
the incorrect answers.

An applicant who has failed the test one or more times and not passed it thereafter may submit an email request to review the questions incorrectly answered on each test.  The Department willestablish a designated email address for the purpose.  The applicant must provide his or her name and license number in the request and the date or dates on which he or she took the test.  Upon receipt of the requested information from Pearson, the Department will send the information to the applicant at the mail address provided by the applicant.

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NYSPPSA Seeks License Renewal Timeline Grace Period

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In efforts to seek more reprieves for New York City process servers, NYSPPSA has submitted another letter the DCA, this time directly to Sanford Cohen, Executive Deputy General Counsel.

The letter addresses a number of points surrounding licensure, one of which is the concern surrounding the DCA’s statement that New York City process servers may not operate after February 28th unless they have received their new license. Larry Yellon, president of NYSPPSA requests the DCA provide a 14 day grace period to process servers, as the application and testing instructions for license renewals were not mailed out until Mid-January.

“Any time lapse between the deadline and the time they receive their renewal license would be an unforeseen detriment to their ability maintain their livelihood” – Larry Yellon

The second point the letter touches on is a request for clarification of the payment amount should a process server fail the exam two times. The current wording makes it sound as though the process server would be required to pay $415.00 for the license and exam fees should they fail twice, but prior policy required only $75.00.

For the full letter go here: Feb. 21st Letter to the DCA

 

 

 

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