There have been a number of recent bills on the table which could affect process servers. One of the top ones from last week involved Texas HB 1989, which if enacted could make service of process by social media a viable option.
According to the bill the court must find a number of things before an individual can be served via social media:
(1) the defendant maintains a social media page on that website;
(2) the profile on the social media page is the profile of the defendant;
(3) the defendant regularly accesses the social media page account; and
(4) the defendant could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice if the electronic communication were sent to the defendant’s account.
There has been no procedure set for how it will be determined if any of the above are true. In any event it is certainly an indication of where things are headed in our industry.
As pointed out by Jeff Karotkin, Ohio already has a bill in place which allows for electronic service of process. Within Ohio electronic service of process is currently as threatening to personal service of process as is service by publication. Given the relatively quick adoption of this practice in a notoriously slow adapting profession, the movement of the law to accept such service may mean the future could see it becoming more of a front line service.
A pointed difference between these two bills though is in Ohio it is clearly stated that this should be used an alternate means of service after reasonable diligence has been executed. In Texas, this type of language doesn’t exist in this new bill.
Another interesting piece in the Texas bill is that it does not mention electronic service of process and specifically refers to social media. This may lead to some necessary clarification down the road if the bill is passed to determine exactly what sites fall under the category of “social media page”. Would that eliminate service through email as most of us with a gmail or other email account generally don’t have a “social media page” for our email address (aside from those with Google+ of course!).
Do you think if passed this bill would have any real impact on our industry?