Being able to access private property without the fear of fines and charges related to trespassing in order to effectuate service may soon be a reality for process servers in Michigan thanks to Senate Bill 321.
Sponsored by Senator Rick Jones, this bill will solve some of the previous issues surrounding the ability to serve on private property within Michigan. The way the current law reads “process servers who are not also deputy sheriffs or court officers cannot enter onto some private property without risking being arrested and subject to the criminal penalty for trespassing”. As of May 15th the bill has been reported favorably by the committee without amendment.
Not every state offers this level of protection to process servers. Yet the ease with which Michigan has moved this bill forward provides hope and motivation for other states to pursue similar legislation. S.B. 321 did not see any opposition and while this may not be the case within every state, there is no doubt that the legal system sees the overall benefit to enacting such legislation. The committee’s arguments in support of the bill state “service of process…is essential to the civil justice system” and that the current laws would “impede the process of litigation or dispute resolution”.
Within the state of New Jersey process servers are required to follow the common law regarding trespassing. If there is a “no trespassing” sign on private property or an individual asks a process server to leave their property the process server must comply or be subject to fines and potentially imprisonment. Within New Jersey on occasions where the individual threatens a call to the police the rule of thumb is to let them call while waiting off the property in a secure space, usually the car. When the police arrive the situation can turn one of two ways but overwhelmingly the end result is effectuated service.
What are the laws like in your state regarding process servers and trespassing? Is this something you would like to see changed if your state has not already done so?