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4 Signs It’s Time to Invest In a Private Process Server

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Still using the sheriff?  Here’s 4 reasons why you should be investing in a private process server instead.

1.You need your updates on time.

If you’ve ever tried to contact the sheriff’s office to get an update on a service, you know what a frustrating experience it can be. Calling and waiting three days to receive a call back doesn’t help keep your case moving.

Using a private process server means you’re dealing with a business, which means quickly returned calls and timely updates.  At DGR you can log in to check your updates and you’ll see service status and updates, which means no more having to call five times to get a status update.

2. Not only do you need updates quickly, you need the service completed quickly.

Sheriffs have a lot of other responsibilities and process service often falls at the bottom of their list. Where a private process server usually makes an attempt within two days of receiving your service, a sheriff can sometimes take up to three weeks for one attempt.

3. Using the sheriff can mean a lot more non-serves.

Given the hours sheriffs typically work, most attempts are made between the hours of 9am-5pm on weekdays. With many individuals at work during those hours, this can result in a high percentage of non-serves. Private process servers go at all hours to effectuate service, generally anywhere between 7am and 9pm, 7 days a week. This ensures that attempts are made at times when the individual is likely to be home.

There’s another big bonus to using private process servers: if you know where the subject will be at a given time, you can ask the server to attempt service then. You can ask the sheriff to serve the individual at 3:30pm, but if they get a call to do something more pressing then you’re back to the bottom of the list.

4. You have a lot of other important things to be focusing on. 

As a legal professional, whether an attorney or paralegal, the list of items you have to complete is a mile long. Following up on services and staying on top of the individual serving them shouldn’t be one of them. Most private process servers take a proactive approach, notifying you when service is or isn’t completed or if there are any issues. For example, if after speaking to the neighbors it is clear the subject no longer resides at the address associated with the service, private process servers will then usually question if the client would like to try a due diligence search to locate a new address.

If you’re still using the sheriff, it may be time to try a private process server for quicker, more responsive service.

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What Process Servers Are Thankful For

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow and a big part of the celebration is not only spending time with friends and family but also reflecting on what we have to be thankful for. Here’s a little list of what we as process servers are thankful for:

We’re thankful for when clients include extra information in their service request.

Have an alternate address? Know the hours the subject works? Have a picture? All of this information is like gold, and we act accordingly when our clients give us these details. More details means quicker service. A win-win for everybody!

Process Service Extra Details

We’re thankful for people who accept service graciously.

We know – this isn’t an easy one. Most of the time the information we are giving people isn’t always welcome news. But really, we’re just trying to let you know about a situation so you can take care of it. We don’t expect a smile and a thank you, but for those of you who have done this we really appreciate it. It can be a very pleasant surprise and can make the day of a process server.

We’re thankful for having a job, especially one that we really like.

Many people today are out of work and we all are grateful to have a job we like with the freedom it allows. Most people who are process servers truly enjoy their jobs. No, no we don’t like giving bad news. What we do like is protecting due process rights while being able to create our own hours, preferably with the windows down and our favorite music playing in between stops.

We’re thankful for when three residential services in a row are home and served.

We don’t mind returning to an address to complete a service. It’s all part of the job. But it’s so nice when not two, but THREE services are completed in a row at different residential addresses. Not extremely rare, but always a nice feeling.

This list is the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to let us know what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wishing you all a VERY happy Thanksgiving!

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New Jersey Looks to Eliminate Affidavits of Service

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While our last post focused on the issue of e-filing affecting messenger service, there is also the potential for process servers to be impacted by e-filing. Within the state of New Jersey, process servers are looking to gain access to the e-filing system, participate in the electronic filing of proofs and to be able to submit e-signatures along with the proofs.

The New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association (NJPPSA) submitted comments on April 30th, 2013 meeting the deadline of May 1st for comments on proposed amendments to R. 1:32-2A.  By having the ability to electronically sign and file proofs of service, process servers will be able to reduce this cost while offering an additional valuable service to their clients.

The comments submitted by NJPSPA would save considerable time and expenses for process servers and their clients. The ultimate goal in obtaining the ability to e-file proofs of service would be to eliminate affidavits which require notarization and instead move to certifications, which do not require a notary. Both affidavits and certifications require the server to attest to the fact that all statements included are correct under the penalty of perjury.

Eliminating the need for notarization would mean proofs of service could be scanned in by a server then e-filed with the court utilizing their assigned electronic signature.  Particularly for process serving companies with a large volume and servers who work outside of the office, this move would help reduce the amount of time needed to complete services and reduce costs. Rather than having to wait for the affidavit to be notarized and wait for it to be mailed back to the office, the server could in theory file the certification immediately after service was effectuated.

Have you had any experience with e-filing in your state? How has it impacted your business or procedures?

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New Jersey SB S2156: Foreclosures & Process Servers

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New Jersey has passed Senate Bill S2156 which establishes summary action to foreclosure mortgages on vacant and abandoned residential property.  Put into effect for a number of reasons, this bill will fast-track foreclosures which are deemed as vacant, reducing the time for foreclosure from 1-2 years to 60 days.

Two primary reasons exist for putting this bill into action with one directly affecting the other.  Because of the length time for foreclosures to go through within New Jersey, banks holding onto vacant properties for an extended period of time.  As the properties sat untended they drove down property values in neighborhoods. While the banks do have a duty to maintain the property, the cost of doing so increased significantly as the number of properties in foreclosure rose.

What does this mean for process servers?  As the text of the bill reads that “clear and convincing evidence” is necessary to prove vacancy, process servers must maintain a high standard for what constitutes a vacancy as well as the knowledge to be able to determine what is and is not vacant. Simply seeing an overgrown yard and no furniture is not enough to prove vacancy. Process servers must verify vacancy with neighbors, check for missing meters and include a number of tactics to certifiably attest that the property is vacant

Part of the bill also stipulates that process servers in New Jersey must make a minimum of two attempts 72 hours apart and during different times of the day: before noon, between noon and 6 p.m., or between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

According to the Bill, the property can be deemed vacant if it is not occupied by a mortgagor or tenant meets at least two of the following:

  1. overgrown or neglected vegetation;

 

  1. the accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property;

 

  1. disconnected gas, electric, or water utility services to the property;

 

  1. the accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;

 

  1. the accumulation of junk, litter, trash, or debris on the property;

 

  1. the absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains, or shutters;

 

  1. the absence of furnishings and personal items;

 

  1. statements of neighbors, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;

 

  1. windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken, and unrepaired;

 

  1. doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;

 

  1. a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;

 

  1. an uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;

 

  1. the mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant or unprotected or in danger of freezing;

 

  1. a written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property;

 

  1. any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.

 

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NJPPSA to Hold Emergency Meeting

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The New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association will be holding an emergency meeting tonight in order to address proposed Rule 1:32-2A (“Electronic Court Systems, Electronic Records, Electronic Signatures”). The proposed new rule would:

(a) authorize the Administrative Director of the Courts, with the approval of the Chief Justice, to develop and implement electronic court systems for the purpose of performing required judiciary functions, such as electronic filing or electronic record keeping

(b) provide that data and documents maintained in an approved electronic court system shall have the same force and effect as if in original paper format

(c) provide for the use of electronic signatures in an approved electronic court system.

With comments to be placed by May 1st and the NAPPS convention quickly approaching as a forum in which to discuss this proposed Rule, NJPPSA will be meeting to develop a plan to submit comments regarding access by process servers.   As part of this plan, it will be proposed process servers gain access to e-filing for providing proofs of service, including allowing e-signatures.

E-filing is already being implemented in other areas, including Philadelphia.  In hearing from process servers it seems as though the courts have understood how process servers can benefit from access to the e-filing system.

Stay tuned for updates on NJPPSA’s plan of action as well as a deeper review of how e-filing will affect not only process service with New Jersey, but also messenger service.

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New York Judge Allows Service of Process Via Facebook

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A Manhattan federal judge has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can serve five individuals based in India through Facebook.

The individuals are accused of running a scheme that tricked Americans into spending money they didn’t need to in order to fix non-existent computer issues. There are a number of factors in the ruling which indicate what prompted the judge to rule as he did:

  1. India, as a member of the Hague Convention, has voiced no objections previously to this type of service.
  2. The defendants were already aware of the case as they had been served with the initial summons and complaint by FedEx as well personally by a process server.  This also indicated a good faith effort on the FTC’s part.
  3. The request by the FTC also included service of process by email, with Facebook service as a supplementary part of the service.  Because service by email alone would comport with due process it was acceptable to include service through Facebook.
  4. There was considerable support that the Facebook accounts indentified by the FTC actually belonged to the defendants. Each of them had been created with email accounts connected previously to the individuals as well as the companies they operated.

It doesn’t seem as though the court is yet open to service through Facebook without service via email as part of the equation.

                “To be sure, if the FTC were proposing to serve defendants only by means of Facebook, as opposed to using Facebook as a supplemental means of service, a substantial question would arise whether that service comports with due process”.

Yet the courts certainly consider electronic service of process as part of the future of process service:

                “As the Ninth Circuit has stated, the due process reasonableness inquiry ‘unshackles the federal courts from anachronistic methods of service and permits them entry into the technological renaissance’.”

 

Read the ruling here.

 

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Process Service Legislation You Should Be Aware Of

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Jeff Karotkin over at Service of Process Looking Forward recently put together a list of Process Server related proposed legislation bill summaries and links for 2013.  Make sure to read it and familiarize yourself with the upcoming bills!  While it may not impact your state initially, what happens in one state will certainly set a precedent and influence future legislation in other states.

In a time when process service is being pushed into the spotlight by legislators around the county it’s so important for all process servers to be aware of what’s happening. 

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Why Maryland’s New Bill Makes No Sense

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Recently in Maryland Senate Bill 554 was proposed, which would include government regulated licensing and bonding. Let’s take a look at the costs involved, and why this bill should be rejected, although it may not be for the reasons that jump immediately to mind.

The costs for such a bill would certainly be exorbitant. While the licensing fees are not extreme at $200 for individuals and $375 for firms (along with charges for records checks), the bonding costs come in at a much higher expense. At $15,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for firms, it is likely such high fees could push some smaller companies out of business. And what need would this fill? Process servers don’t carry money – we trade in papers. Ultimately this bonding only opens the doors for individuals to have one more person to sue and collect from.

Insurance is another story. Should process servers have insurance? Absolutely. In our industry it is important to have some level of protection but bonding doesn’t seem to be the best solution.

Breaking down the licensing portion of this bill, while licensing would help to reduce instances of sewer service by ensuring proper steps are taken to evaluate each process server, this sole benefit does not outweigh the negatives. Many in our industry would agree that certification and training are necessary especially given the less than positive media attention surrounding process servers these days. Yet licensing means government regulation and taxpayer dollars, along with a lack of much needed training.

The licensing program does not include any type of training and instead relies merely on a background check. Because someone does not have a criminal record does not imply that they are familiar with the court rules and can effectuate service in a proper manner. Yet even if the proposed legislation were to include training it still would have a glaring issue: the cost to the taxpayers.

The cost associated with process serving can be high and many government entities are looking to outsource process serving. Within New Jersey, where sheriffs handle process service as well, Camden County has already outsourced their process service to private parties and eliminated their process service department after finding that the cost to serve was well outside what they were recouping in payment. This trend will no doubt continue as individual counties stumble upon the same realization. Between the pay rate per hour of sheriffs along with their benefits and travel costs, there is no doubt that the low charge does not cover all of the costs incurred.

The issue with government licensing falls largely on taxpayers being required to pay for licensing of an industry which handles civil suits and service. Associations would certainly be able to handle the running of any type of certification program. Even if the government were to approve these programs first, the costs would be extraordinarily minimal in comparison to having to run an entire licensing project. Once certified by a state association, the government could maintain a registry of these certified process servers.

DGR has sent in a letter in opposition to this bill. While taking action to eliminate those without any proper education of the civil court rules should be an appropriate action to be undertaken by every state, to have the government implement licensing at the expense of taxpayers and requiring unnecessary high amounts of bonding while not involving any training seems to be the opposite of what the industry needs.

Tell us what you think about this bill and where process service training and certification should be headed in the future.

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New York Already Proposing Even More Process Service Regulations

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New York has already seen a slew of new legislation in the wake of an extreme case of sewer service resulting in nearly 100,000 cases being overturned.  From licensing to GPS requirements to hefty fines, the impact has been felt.  Now it seems as though another piece of ruling is on the table that has a number of implications for servers.

To start, a process server will be required to obtain a license renewal every two years at a cost of $500.  In addition there are stricter rules surrounding the licensing number received such as:

  • Any advertisement, letterhead, receipt or printed matter must contain the license number
  • Servers cannot indicate that because they have a license number that it is an endorsement of their quality of work in any way

Fines are attached to these rules, with a fine of no less than one hundred dollars and no more than $2,000.  That is, if the secretary doesn’t suspend revoke or suspend your license that is.

The new ruling also lays out new rules for the need of a bond, contract of indemnity or irrevocable letter of credit dependent on the number of employees (only counts those who engage in service of process):

  • 1-4 employees: $10,000 bond
  • 5-9 employees: $25,000
  • 10-20 employees: $50,000
  • 20+ employees: $75,000

Violations in this section can cost a server anywhere between one hundred and $10,000 for each penalty.

It would seem as though change is coming to the process service industry in the face of a legal system where concern involving sewer service is on the rise.  

Take a look at the full piece of legislation.

How do you feel about this rule?

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