How far can a process server go in order to complete service? What if tracking down an evasive recipient requires an elaborate ruse or disguise? While extreme acts of deception are rarely seen outside the movies, process servers are known to get creative when it comes to effectuating service.
From simply blending in with the crowd to keeping an empty pizza box in the car at all times (in case they need to act like they’re delivering pizza instead of serving subpoenas), here are a few of the methods process servers use to get the job done.
The best disguise is simply blending in
Disguises are often the last resort for most process servers. While movies and television make it seem like process servers spend most of their day changing from one elaborate costume into the next, most process servers prefer to successfully effectuate service simply by blending in with the surrounding environment.
For example, a process server may wear a suit or other business attire if attempting to serve an individual working in a formal corporate environment. They may switch to business casual for a more laid-back office setting, and will usually dress casually (but appropriately) when serving someone at their home.
Blending in with the environment is especially important when attempting to serve an evasive individual. If a process server stands out in a crowd due to what they are wearing—think a formal business suit while serving someone at a park or informal outdoor event—they are more likely to be noticed—and avoided by—the person they are trying to serve.
A little preparation can go a long way
In addition to blending in with their surroundings, process servers can often avoid the need for a disguise by doing sufficient background research on the individual in question. If the person is not actively trying to evade service, it’s likely the server will be able to effectuate service at the individual’s home or workplace with no disguise necessary.
However, if an individual is attempting to avoid being served, a process server will get creative and scope out additional locations in order to complete service. They might find out the location of the individual’s gym, put on some nondescript workout clothes, and serve the individual there.
Similarly, a process server may identify restaurants frequented by an individual and serve them as they sit down for dinner. Dressing up as a waiter is completely optional, and most process servers will just hand the person the papers at some point during their meal.
When a disguise is truly necessary
Of course, sometimes a person is so evasive that a disguise is the only way to successfully complete service. Sometimes this means dressing as a delivery person from the local pizza joint (or even the friendly neighborhood Uber Eats driver) in order to gain access to a person determined to avoid service.
Other common approaches include dressing up as construction or maintenance workers, going door-to-door dressed as a salesperson selling pest control or the latest alarm system, and even showing up with a bouquet of flowers in order to feign making a special delivery.
And sometimes the best disguise is as a patient or prospective customer. Process servers from DGR Legal once made an appointment with a doctor who had proven particularly difficult to serve. Likewise, servers could make appointments with a variety of professionals in order to gain access to their offices and finally complete service.
While it isn’t a process server’s preferred method of effectuating service, sometimes difficult circumstances call for unique solutions.
Serve process, not protect and serve
While a process server may resort to disguises or props in order to effectuate service, it is illegal to impersonate or dress as a police officer in all 50 states. It is also against the law to impersonate a government official or serve an individual while disguised as a UPS, USPS, or FedEx delivery person.
Not only is using an illegal disguise a criminal act, but it will also likely jeopardize an individual’s case. If opposing counsel determines that their client was not properly served, they can effectively halt all legal proceedings until service is correctly effectuated. Furthermore, the presiding judge could choose to dismiss the case entirely because of an illegal disguise worn by the process server.
While tracking down an evasive individual is certainly frustrating and time-consuming, it’s never worth breaking the law while attempting to complete service.
Excellent service, every time
And when you need service completed in a timely and legal manner, there’s no team more dedicated than the process servers at DGR Legal. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you move forward with your legal proceedings—no clever disguise necessary.