The recent decision of a Tennessee Judge to direct all work from private process servers to the Sheriff’s Office in Knox county highlights why it’s so important for process servers to be professional at all times.
Judge Chuck Cerny halted private process servers from serving after an incident where a process server “harassed and scared someone in the middle of the night”. The process server was unidentified and as a result the Judge has taken action against all private process servers in the county.
“I just felt like doing something kind of immediate in response to this one particular incident was justified at this time”, said Cerny.
The importance of professionalism
Cerny’s swift response shows the significant impact the actions of just one process server can have on an entire industry and the livelihood of private process servers. More than ever, it is important for process servers to behave professionally no matter what situation arises. Attempting service in the middle of the night, unless the subject has arranged for the meeting, is generally uncalled for. For example, at DGR service isn’t attempted before 6am or after 10pm for litigation matters.
Regardless of the hour service is attempted, if a subject calls the police and claims to be harassed it is very important for the process server to speak with the authorities. Often times there are two sides to a story and when a process server goes unidentified it leaves only one-side to be heard, which can leave process servers as a whole looking bad.
The future of process servers in Knox County
Private process servers will be allowed to serve again after they have undergone a court-sanctioned procedure which has not yet been specified. 70% of the documents that need to be served generally go through private process servers, so the Sheriff’s office will see a significant increase in workload. But it’s clear the Judge’s actions were motivated by the understandable desire to protect the citizens of Knox County and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Keys to staying professional
Private process servers can stay professional, and keep our industry in a positive light, by:
- Attempting service during reasonable hours
- Never presenting themselves as anything other than process servers without the appropriate designation
- Keeping calm even in the face of a hostile subject
- If a subject calls the police, removing themselves to a safe location and awaiting their arrival to ensure both sides of the story are heard
- Keeping up on training of local procedures, rules and laws
- Being a part of professional associations
Private process servers play an important role in the legal system, but we all have to remember how quickly the actions of one person could change everything for an entire industry. Not only must we ourselves stay professional but we have to also encourage our fellow process servers to do the same.