Process servers play a vital role in protecting due process rights, as does the entire legal system. The extensive due diligence requirements needed for approval of alternate service is proof how important service of process is.
Why is due diligence important
Due diligence shows the judge and court adequate and reasonable measures were taken to attempt to effectuate service prior to alternate service being approved.
The golden rule for service of process has always been and will continue to be personal service. Even the new use of electronic service of process is still viewed as merely an alternate method of service to be used once all avenues have been exhausted in attempting personal or secondary service.
Due diligence requirements mean service will not be allowed to jump to being published or mailed without going through the proper attempts and research for personal service. This protects due process rights in ensuring everything possible to give notice to the proper person has been tried before moving on to the next method, which is less likely to provide notice. After all, what could top personal service?
Due diligence requirements
There is no written set of requirements for due diligence. For example, there is no statute or rule stating a DMV search must be conducted to locate a new address, followed by hiring an investigator to contacting the Post Office for a possible forwarding address.
These are however all very effective means for attempting to locate an individual for service. Particular cases like foreclosure require very intensive due diligence given the magnitude of the final result if the bank regains ownership of the property.
Without black and white rules it can be difficult to determine what a judge will want to see prior to approving alternate service. At a minimum however the following should be conducted:
- A locate conducted by a process server or a skip trace conducted by an investigator
- A post office inquiry
- Attempts at the last known address
What to expect from your process server
Your process server should assist in providing appropriate recommendations for next steps in the event there is either no address or an inaccurate one for an individual or business.
Having access to specialized databases will also help locate an updated and current address for a subject. A Google search has very limited information in comparison to the comprehensive databases a process server has access to and should never be considered adequate due diligence.
Due diligence is an extremely important part of service of process and the protection of due process rights. Cutting corners infringes on a person’s rights to be notified of any action involving them. The only proper way to ensure adequate steps have been taken is to attempt to locate a new address and the individual in a variety of ways.