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Dog Attack Advice for Process Servers

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In a follow up to the previous blog post, we wanted to share the feedback on our employees gave in response. A retired police officer who had over 25 years on the force, this server had some valuable insight on handling dog attacks and situations:

“Saw the mention about the Rottie and warning sign. I was a breeder a few years back of Rottweilers and became aware of this interesting bit about dog warning signs. A notice of a “Vicious Dog”, “Attack Dog”, or just plain old “Beware of Dog” sign use to serve as a warning, or if you will, a form of legal notice used to help minimize liability for property owners. Not anymore – it was brought to my attention that now-a-days it serves to increase the liability as you, the owner of the “nasty” animal, is/was aware of the potential hazard. Long before I stopped owning Rotties, I took down my “Beware of Dog” signs. Not exactly news you need to know as Cujo is about to leap upon you, but if you survive and there was a sign, you get paid bigger.

 Turning and running may have worked out this time, but your back and flight is the best way to trigger attacks.  A server may want to carry “over-the-counter” pepper mace with you (IN HAND) when entering areas that warn of potential dog issues. It does not always work though – I have seen law enforcement grade mace sprayed directly into dogs’ eyes from six inches away and it had no effect. One could also try the bear pepper spray dispensers. I have seen these on TV stop and turn bears in full charge. Or perhaps you may opt to try one of those foghorn type noise makers – it may confuse the dog long enough to get you safe. Sometimes you win the foot race with Fido and sometimes you lose, but go in prepared and increase your chances of going home in one piece. Also, if your spider senses are tingling don’t lock your car doors and you won’t have to fumble for keys. “

A few other of our servers also mentioned that they don’t lock their car doors just in case these types of situations arise. Do you lock your doors or leave them unlocked when going about a service?  Let us know and fill us in on any more dog defense tips you might have!

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Irate Defendants and a Rottweiler: When Services Get Dangerous

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While as a process server one may expect to encounter potentially dangerous situations, the cases of assaults are something all servers hope to avoid. We recently had a situation where one of DGR’s servers was unfortunately put in a situation that resulted in a police report and is a reminder to exercise caution and diligence at all times.

Our server was sent to serve an individual, who we shall call Mr. John Smith, personally as well as for three business entities he was connected with. With the four services in hand totaling about 100 pages, the server parked at the end of the driveway as there was no parking on the street and proceeded to walk up the driveway. After confirming with an individual who the subject was, she approached John Smith.  After he responded to the server saying “John?” with a “yes” the server then explained they had paper work for him and handed it over.

After looking at the paper work, Mr. Smith forcefully told the server to take the paper work back. Explaining they could not do that, the server then told Mr. Smith there were three other sets of documents. Mr. Smith refused to take them so the papers were placed on a stack of papers.  Things then escalated as the defendant became irate, aggressively telling the server to take the paper work back.

Wanting to get out of the situation the server exited the building and began walking quickly toward their car. As the server left, they overheard Mr. Smith telling an employee to “make her take the paper work back”.  The employee followed the server, catching up with them even though they were walking quickly. Managing to get into the car and close the door, the server told the employee they couldn’t take the paper work back through a closed window.

The employee then proceeded to draw his arm back and throw the rolled up stack of documents at the car window, with such force that the server was “sure the window was going to break”.  Thankfully it didn’t.  As the server began to pull away the employee picked up the paperwork which was all over the ground and followed the car, throwing paperwork at it as he did.

So shaken up, the server  then pulled out of the driveway with only a small check as they were fearful to stop the car as the man was following it.  The police were called and a report was filed.  The police and detectives were extremely responsive and helpful. While the server declined to press charges, the detectives did speak with the defendant as to his behavior.

As if this wasn’t enough, within five days the same server encountered another situation where a lesson was learned.  While pulling up to serve an individual at a personal residence, the server noted a “Beware of Rottweiler” sign.  After calling the office to confirm the address before approaching the property, the server then proceeded to the front door.

Noting the door was not just cracked but was nearly three quarters of the way open the server yelled hello.  With no response the server then knocked on the glass door. The server then heard a VERY loud bark come from upstairs. Without hesitation the server started running toward the car, hearing the barking get closer and closer as they ran.

 

Process Server Attacks

While running the server realized their car keys were in their bag. Pulling items out of the bag and throwing them in attempt to locate their keys, the server tossed pens and papers as they tried to reach the car. Finally they managed to get to their keys and got into their car just as the Rottweiler, who did not look happy to have someone on their property, closed in.

The dog remained barking outside the car while the server honked for about ten minutes, waiting for someone to come out of the house. When no one did the server pulled away but had learned a lesson in the process: always keep your keys where they are easily accessible.

We always hope our servers never encounter these types of situations and are thankful that the server was able to avoid the worst case scenario in these situations. Be careful out there!

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Hurricane Sandy Impacts Foreclosures & Services in NJ

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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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Process Server Blogs You Should Be Reading

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We know we’re not the only blog in town and we wanted to share with you these other blogs that focus on process service. For our industry to maintain the ground we have gained so far as well as to expand, it’s important that we are all as involved as possible. Knowing about recent news surrounding electronic service, potential or passed legislation, assaults on process servers or just general business tips helps both your business and the profession.

Seem like a lot to keep up with all these process server blogs?  Look for a post coming up which explains RSS feeds so you won’t have to constantly check these sites for new content. Instead it will all be put into one place for you to read. But for now, feel free to check the archives of these blogs.

Time to grab a cup of coffee and start reading!

Jeffrey Worth – Process Server Blog

Author: Jeffrey Worth

Has RSS

https://serverjeff.com/blog/

Jeff talks about a number of topics from a down-to-earth perspective on topics including the price variation between process servers and whether or not he would ever serve another process server.

Process Server blog

Statewide Process Servers Blog

https://www.statewideprocessservers.com/blog/

This blog just started up in June but already has some great, informative content including:

  • Price, Quality and Service: Can You Get All Three? – Discusses whether or not a process server is able to provide all these three of these things or just one or two of them
  • Process Server or Collector?
  • Where to draw the line of these services and our role

It will be interesting to see what topics come up next.

StatewideProcessServers

Robin’s Ruminations

Author: Robin Mullins

HAS RSS FEED

https://domino-140a.4thcorner.com/4thcorner/WebSite/C4PSE_QA.nsf/

Robin covers information ranging from serving stories, the history of process serving and its evolution, dos and don’ts for process servers, as well as insight into the e-service issue.

RobinsRuminations

Serve Legal Process Blog

Author: Skip Thomas

HAS RSS FEED

https://www.servelegalprocess.com/blog/

This blog includes updates on the Florida court system, technology and service,  and general process service tips including a great piece on the 7 Deadly Sins of Process Servers.

ServeLegalProcess

Service of Process Looking Forward

Author: Jeff Karotkin

No RSS

https://serviceofprocesslookingforward.blogspot.com/

This blog focuses on all things involving electronic service of process, whether by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter and highlights the need to face the coming changes in the industry. A must read for anyone in the industry.

ServiceofProcesLookingForward

One Legal Blog

Author: Lili Daniel/Mark Schwartz/Eric Winkler/Brooke Greene

HAS RSS FEED

https://community.onelegal.com/

Focused primarily on California rule updates and news pertaining to process service, including e-filing.

 OneLegalProcess-01

Feeling inspired to start your own blog? Check out Serve-Now’s tips on getting started. Be sure to let us know if you start your own so we can add you to list!

 

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Supporting the Samaritan Inn

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A couple weeks ago DGR went out to support one of our charities, the Samaritan Inn, at their annual Grape Expectations event.  We always like being able to be a part of the organization, as we see the passion and dedication of the people who run this amazing program.  The Samaritan Inn provides emergency food and temporary shelter to homeless families in Sussex County as well as a program of counseling and skill building in family maintenance and growth.

Each year The Samaritan Inn hosts a wine tasting and auction as a fundraiser for their organization.  This year’s location was by the far the best of all, at the gorgeous Lake Mohawk Country Club on the water.  With fantastic items for auction, delicious wines to taste with food to match, the event was a huge success drawing a large group of supporters.

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NJPPSA Self-Defense Seminar

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NJPPSA hosted a Process Server Defense Seminar on September 13th where a 3rd degree black belt, Dan Hiltwine, came in to speak.  This interactive seminar not only included a great meal but also tons of self-defense tips and even some board breaking!

Here’s what we learned:

How To Stand

Even turning the body slightly on an angle can help minimize damage if the person does unfortunately resort to an attack.  It is easier to absorb a hit through the side of the body than it is something straight on, particularly if that straight on hit includes the face.

Open Your Hands

If you sense the situation becoming tense, simply step back (on an angle of course) and put both hands up, palms facing the aggressor. This gives the person the sense that you are not looking to fight and is meant to calm the situation.  For you however, this means your hands are up and ready to block your head and face should a punch come.

Smile

It’s much easier to avoid a fight than to have to deal with one. Remember your role and what our job is. Going up to an individual with a negative attitude when emotions are already running high could quickly lead to an escalated situation.  Rather remain calm and even smile.  It will disarm most people more than you think.

Never turn your back

While at the meeting we heard a story from a member where as she was walking away from a subject, he grabbed her ponytail and she was dragged to the ground. A scary story and not one anyone would want to go through. To avoid these types of situations, Dan gives a recommendation similar to that of how to stand: walk away sideways.  Dan also suggests not wearing a ponytail as “If you grab someone from the hair, that person is in total control of your body and where it will go.  Don’t give anyone a reason to be able to control you at any time”.

While it’s difficult to walk away by backing up, you can always be slightly turned, even adding in a “have a nice day” as you walk away so it seems as though you are still turned in order to speak with the subject. This allows you to keep an eye on the individual and not be surprised with any unfortunate attacks from behind.

Get a routine

You want to constantly be aware of your surroundings and recognize any potential signs as well as be able to react quickly.  To give the most attention possible to this, develop a routine.  Keep your keys in the same place, should you need to access them quickly to enter your car. Always park your car facing the same way for the same reasons. Thinking about potential situations and developing routines to allow you to respond to them is one of the best defenses.

Board Breaking

To show just how much strength we all have even if we are not aware of it, Dan had members of NJPPSA break boards.  Even those who swore they “couldn’t hurt a fly” were able to break the board.   It just goes to show you how much we are all capable of without even knowing it.

 If you get a chance, definitely go attend a self-defense seminar or take up karate for a little while.  The skills learned in this seminar were excellent and would be valuable for any process server to know.  While we don’t want to get into a fight, we are all aware that any service could potentially result in given the nature of our business.  Good luck serving everyone!

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Happy National Due Process Day!

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National Due Process Day

Today is National Due Process Day, organized by NAPPS as a public awareness campaign to help others better understand due process rights and the role process servers play in that system.

We’ve previously blogged about how process servers help to preserve individuals’ due process rights and think this is a fantastic idea which will hopefully educate the public about the importance of personal service.  Cleverly celebrated on the day of the introduction of the 5th amendment, which along with the 14th protects due process rights, we’re happy to take part in this event and hope you’ll do the same!

While many are interested in process service primarily for the “entertainment factor” there is a much bigger picture to the service we provide.  Not only is process service generally not what is shown on television or in the movies, but it also comes with a lot more respect for the legal system and the process than most people think.  On a daily basis process servers work to maintain these basic rights, showing this through the integrity of each service we perform.

As a NAPPS member, DGR is committed to the guidelines the association promotes, but also adheres to them for the purpose of ensuring that each person receives protection of their rights they deserve.  The more people who recognize this, the greater defense there will be against rulings that could diminish personal service, such as electronic service.

We’ll be busy getting the word out today and hope you’ll join us by tweeting, posting to Facebook or just telling your neighbor!

Happy National Due Process Day!

 

 

 

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4 Tips for Handling Dangerous Serves

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Our previous post about a potentially dangerous serve  got us wondering about how other process servers handle this type of situation. We posted this question in the Serve Now forum on LinkedIn (join if you haven’t already – there’s some good information in there) and got some great, professional responses back.  Here are the top 4 tips:

1.  Smile & be courteous.

This was the top comment made by other process servers.  As Tressy Capps of T Capps Process Service (CA) said “Serve as you would be served”. Having a smile ready as well as being calm and professional will help to not inflame an already emotional situation, as the news being received generally isn’t good – unless of course someone has been waiting on those divorce papers! 

Being sympathetic to the individual’s situation doesn’t hurt either. Dave Luce of Love To Serve Them, LLC (CA) makes a good point, saying “I try to be understanding of their situation, answer as many of their questions as I can without giving legal advice, and try to let them know I am just the bearer of bad news, not the bad guys”. 

2. Be prepared. 

Do your homework seems to be the general consensus of the group.  Whether it’s researching the neighborhood, doing a quick background check or even making a list of potential circumstances and planning out a response ahead of time, some sort of preparation is needed. It’s always better to be overly prepared than to go into a situation not knowing what to expect.

3. Call the police as backup if you need to.

At DGR, while we try to limit this as we know the police have plenty of other things to handle, there are simply times when it was necessary. For example, when we had to return to serve a co-owner of a company whose partner told us when we served him that if we came back we’d better come prepared with a gun. That was certainly a good time to get the police to go with us when we had to return to the location.

Calling ahead of time to gives a heads up always helps too, particularly if you will be doing any stake outs. This way the bases are covered and the police have been notified.  The last thing you want is the neighborhood watch calling and the police showing up, letting the subject know exactly where you have been waiting for the past two hours. 

4. Treat every serve as a potentially dangerous serve.

This last piece of advice seems to be one that can sometimes be the most difficult to follow. When serve after serve goes relatively smoothly, one can fall into a false sense of security. But the truth about process service is that you just never know when something is going to go wrong.  J.B. Cook of Golden State Municipal Services (CA) provides a great example of this, telling the group “I’ve had gang members in BAD areas shake my hand and say thank you one day and have little old ladies in upscale areas let their dogs on me the next.”

Going into each service alert and ready for anything increases the likelihood of picking up on a situation where something may be about to go amiss.

Here are a couple other tips we pulled from the conversation:

  • Bring another form of communication, such as a CB if you feel you are going into an area where your phone won’t have a signal
  • Have a good working knowledge of basic self-defense. Take karate or a self-defense course. If you have a permit to carry, be sure to go to the range regularly. Ray Cruz of Cayuga Security & Investigation, Inc (NY) points out that “there’s no point in carrying a weapon if you do not know how to use it”.

We hope these tips helped. Anything process servers can do to stay safe is always worth the time.  If you have any other ideas feel free to join the forum and post there or comment on our blog.  Good luck serving everyone!

 

 

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Process Servers in Entertainment

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While we know what we see on the television or in the movies generally is not the most accurate representation of the process serving profession, it’s still interesting to see the number of them which involve a process server. We thought it would be interesting and fun to put together a list of some process servers in entertainment. Check it out!

Serving Sara

An entire movie where the star is a process server! This romantic comedy stars Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley and Bruce Campbell. The plot line involves a where a process server (Matthew Perry) is given the assignment to serve Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley) with divorce papers. Through a series of serving laws and mishaps, the two eventually fall in love.

Pineapple Express

One of the more popular movies of our time containing a process server in the main role, Pineapple Express is the comedic story of Dale Denton (Seth Rogen), a 25-year-old process server who witnesses the dangerous drug lord and corrupted cop, Ted Jones (Gary Cole) and Officer Carol Brazier (Rosie Perez) committing murder.

All Worked Up

The majority of process servers are well aware of this show, whose portrayal of the day to day actions of a process server tend to be extremely off the mark and exaggerated. As far as entertainment goes however, it seems to be doing a good job as the show is about to enter its 5th season.

In the show, Bronx process server Bryan McElderry is followed as he serves individuals.  Here’s an example of one of his many episodes:

The Lucy Show

Process servers in entertainment are nothing new. Back in 1964 Lucy, on The Lucy Show, was hired by an attorney as a process server. During an attempt to serve an individual, in regular Lucy style she winds up as a stowaway aboard a cruise ship scheduled for a 28 day trip.

We’re In the Money

Going even further back than the days of The Lucy Show, there was a little known movie from 1935 which Ginger Stewart and Dixie Tilton pose as two process servers.  The two friends want to quit, but they’re offered a thousand dollars to serve four subpoenas in a breach of promise suit against rich C. Richard Courtney. Little does Ginger realize, C. Richard Courtney and her mysterious park bench boyfriend ‘Carter’ are one and the same.

Bit Parts

Process servers occasionally make their way onto the screen in the form of supporting characters or smaller parts. For example, The Good Wife on CBS featured a process server in an episode this year whose attempts to serve and confirm identity were misconstrued as a dating attempt.

We’re looking forward to seeing the next movie or tv shows that stars a process server!  Know of any others?  Share them with us below!

 

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Even More Process Server Altercations

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Two recent cases involving an altercation with a process server have garnered significant attention.

In one of the cases the mayor of Mendenhall, Mississippi is being charged with simple assault after a process server attempted to serve him at his home.  The process server claims the mayor, Steve Womack, swore at him and assaulted him.  Womack claims these allegations are false and plans to dispute them.

In the second case Illinois attorney Allen W. James received a 60 day suspension after he pulled a loaded semiautomatic handgun on a process server in the parking lot of county courthouse.  While he claimed to not know who the individual was, the hearing board pointed out that he had been evading service and most likely had a good idea that the man was a process server. In the courts, James was found guilty of misdemeanor aggravated assault.

There certainly needed to be some repercussions, but this begs the question of what would the outcome have been if James had pulled a loaded weapon on an officer of the court?  He certainly would’ve faced a higher set of charges and potentially could have been disbarred.  Process servers still have a ways to go before they have a higher level of protection against these types of assaults, which could in turn reduce the number of these attacks if individuals knew that they faced a more serious sentencing.  

 

 

 

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