What Does a Process Server Actually Do? + 5 Crazy Stories

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    Introduction

    Twenty years ago, I made the decision to become a process server. I was in good company - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are roughly 15,000 to 20,000 process servers employed in the United States. To some extent, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Sometimes boring, sometimes too exciting, working as a process server is a mixed bag of unpredictability. Overall, however, I’ve enjoyed my time as a process server and am ready to help the next generation get started in their careers.

    Sometimes I feel like I have 1,000 stories to tell, each one more fantastical than the last. My life as a process server has shown me the seedy underbelly of life while allowing me to meet incredible - and not so incredible - people.

    Regardless of the client, every day as a process server is like the first day. I am challenged and sometimes pushed to the breaking point trying to fulfill my assignment. Still, I wouldn’t trade my job for the world.

    So, what does a process server actually do?

    To understand what a process server does, you should first understand the history of process serving and the purpose of a process server. 

    What is the History of Process Serving?

    Process serving dates all the way back to 1215 when English barons took the principle of due process from King John. The Magna Carta includes a guarantee that no free man could be taken or imprisoned, ousted from his lands, outlawed, banished, or hurt in any way without lawful judgment of their peers and by the law of the land. This is the birth of due process in the United States.

    Little change occurred to the concept of due process until the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1787. The following language was included: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of the law.”

    Due process went through another change in 1970, when the U.S. Supreme Court held that states had the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    In 1982, a group of process servers formed the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS). Today, most reputable process servers are a part of NAPPS.

    Now that you understand the history behind process serving, let’s take a look at the purpose of a process server.

    What is the Purpose of a Process Server?

    The underpinning purpose of a process server is to execute due process. Due process is a legal concept that is guaranteed in the Constitution under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

    In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment states: “no person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This applies to all people and is federal-based. The Fourteenth Amendment states: “no State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of the law.” This amendment applies to the States.

    These important amendments prevent anyone from being deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of the law. By delivering legal documents to the proper parties whenever a legal action is taken that may deprive someone of life, liberty or property, I help fulfill Constitutional protections.

    For example, let’s say Joe brings a lawsuit through his attorney against Andy. My job would be to work with Joe’s attorney to notify Andy of the lawsuit and give him a chance to take action to prevent his property - usually money - from being taken from him.

    But executing the Constitutional requirements for due process isn’t always easy. Despite due process being in place to protect people from deprivation of life, liberty and property, most people are less than excited to find out that legal action has been taken against them.

    In fact, some are downright hostile. But, more on that in a minute!

    Without process servers, an individual could be sued or have other legal action taken against them and not even know it. In those cases, if the party fails to act (or appear in court, depending on the circumstances of the case) something known as a default judgment can occur. A default judgment is a ruling in favor of the plaintiff in the event that the defendant fails to respond to a court summons by not taking action or appearing in court. Under these protections, a defendant is given notice that they can prepare a response, hire an attorney, or appear on their own behalf. Without due process, individuals could be deprived of life, liberty and property with no warning and no chance to state their case. This kind of dystopian society would violate our notions of fairness and fair play. Luckily, we live in a country that has due process written into our Constitution so all Americans can be free from default judgments, should they choose to act.

    Now that you understand due process, let’s take a deep dive into what it means to be a process server, how to become one, and some of the zaniest process serving experiences I have had over the years.

    What is a Process Server?

    A process server is someone who is hired to locate other parties and deliver documents to people involved in legal actions. They can be hired by a private investigator, an attorney, a legal services company, a process server company and others. Because service of process is notice that the party must appear before court, process servers help the wheels of justice move forward faster and more smoothly while still protecting the party’s Constitutional protections.

    Who Can Become a Process Server?

    In most cases, you need to meet the following requirements to become a process server:

    • You must have a high school diploma or GED

    • Be 18 years old or older

    • Have U.S. citizenship

    • Maintain a current driver’s license in good standing

    Bear in mind that state requirements vary, so it’s always a good idea to research the rules in the jurisdiction where you wish to work.

    The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Process Server

    Like any job, there are pros and cons of becoming a process server.

    Pros of Being a Process Server

    The pros of being a process server include:

    • Each day is unique

    • Get to travel

    • Flexible schedule

    • Long-lasting job security

    • Each Day is Unique

    Each Day is Unique

    From day to day, I never know what is going to happen in my job. I never get tired or bored because each day brings new challenges. An office job is not for me - I crave the excitement of process serving!

    Get to Travel

    As a process server, I never know where the job will take me. I often get asked to serve papers to someone in another jurisdiction. This traveling allows me to see more of the country and meet interesting people.

    Flexible Schedule

    For the most part, I work when I want. I decide how many clients to take on, where to accept them, and for how much. This means I create my own schedule that allows me the work-life balance that other people can only dream of.

    Long Lasting Job Security

    I will expand on this later, but process servers are an integral part of the U.S. legal system. As such, our role is vital and will always be in high demand. Other industries experience ebbs and flows while our work is consistent in the long-term.

    The Cons of Being a Process Server

    There are also downsides to being a process server. These include:

    • Extensive stakeouts

    • Outbursts and verbal abuse from people being served

    • Unpredictable income

    Extensive Stakeouts

    I was once on a stakeout for 14 hours. I’d like to say that this was an outlier, but typically stakeouts last much longer than I would like. Stakeouts can be boring and sometimes a waste of time.

    Verbal Abuse

    It may go without saying, but no one is happy to be sued. I am often verbally abused by the people I serve papers to. You have to have a thick skin to not let it get to you, though.

    Unpredictable Income

    Another disadvantage of the job is that, though it is flexible, the income can be unpredictable. It’s hard to know how long one case will take so I don’t always have the freedom to take on as many cases as I need. Further, I am not always able to get my fee from clients and would have to settle for less.

    To determine if process serving is the right fit for you, carefully weigh the pros and cons listed and see if they balance out. If not, you may want to consider another career.

    Speaking of careers, exactly how do you become a process server? Follow along as we take a deep dive into the requirements and process of becoming a process server.

    How to Become a Process Server

    As a process server, you wear many hats. From legal understanding to surveillance techniques, on any given day I may have to be a legal researcher, private detective or court official. I may be called on to investigate, navigate and execute legal processes all in the same day.

    Process servers come from many walks of life: no one background can guarantee success as a process server. However, some backgrounds can make beginning a process server career easier than others. Legal backgrounds, law enforcement training and private detective experience can all help you to be successful. Regardless of your background, all process servers need the following skills:

    • Research

    • Patience

    • Outside-the-box thinking

    • Attention to detail

    • Organized

    • Persuasive

    Research

    No matter what the case entails, my work always begins with research. Digging through someone’s life to find answers requires flexibility, knowhow and a calculating mind. Whether it’s interviewing friends and family or perusing social media, my job is much like an undercover detective. I have to operate on the fringes while understanding what makes the average person tick.

    Almost all of my cases involve stakeouts. While they may seem exciting on TV, a stakeout is one of the most boring aspects of my job! It takes a lot of patience to sit in one place for hours waiting for the mere chance that your mark will show their face. Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to process serving.

    While there may be similarities from one case to the next, no two cases are ever alike. This means that with each case I have to “reinvent the wheel” and stretch my intellect to come up with fresh ways to get my target. The more creative I am, the more successful I am at delivering legal papers.

    Having a keen attention to detail is important. From researching state requirements to digging through mounds of information, every detail counts. You never know what piece of information will put you in a place to be the most effective.

    Basic organizational skills will really help with this job. I have an extensive filing system that chronicles each case, down to the most minute detail. Being organized ensures that the service is effective and that there aren’t any loose ends.

    I don’t have to tell you that most people aren’t thrilled with being served. Their friends and family are often even more reluctant to participate in the process. That’s where persuasion comes in - it’s my job to convince third parties to give up the dirt on a mark.

    Why are Process Servers Important?

    Process servers fulfill a much needed position in the legal world. They uphold the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. They also ensure people receive notifications in accordance with local, state and federal laws. A process server also helps justice move along quickly, preventing the court systems from lagging behind on cases.

    Responsibilities and Duties of Process Servers

    Being a process server is an important job that comes with many responsibilities and duties. Here are a few of the most common:

    • Serving legal documents

    • Following legal procedures

    • Providing proof of service

    • Diligence and persistence

    • Maintaining discretion and professionalism

    A process server’s “bread and butter” is serving legal documents. Typically, these documents include a Summons. As explained later, there are many different ways a process server can accomplish service.

    Strict legal procedures are in place for process servers. Those who do this job have to be able to follow legal procedures. This includes service of the papers, ensuring that the right person has been served and that the law has been followed during the process.

    Once the documents are served, the process server is required to submit proof of service to the court. This typically takes the form of an affidavit or declaration. It should detail the time, place and manner of service.

    Both of these qualities will serve you well as you track down parties to legal actions. This is especially true when dealing with the more evasive individuals. Persisting to the end ensures that the laws of due process are fulfilled.

    It’s important for process servers to respect the privacy of the individual whom they are serving. There is a delicate balance between locating your other party and an invasion of their privacy. It’s also vital to remain calm and professional at all times.

    What are the Requirements for Becoming a Process Server?

    While everyone’s journey to becoming a process server may be slightly different, there are basic required steps:

    • Have a current legal drivers license

    • Research your state’s requirements

    • Complete process server training

    • Review state service of process laws

    • Apply for certification

    • Acquire foreign languages

    • Find a position that is the best fit for you

    Because I already had a valid driver’s license and had researched the requirements in my state, my journey began with process serving training. These courses are extremely helpful to help you hone your research skills as well as:

    • Methods to approach defendants

    • How to get a defendant to identify themselves

    • Delivery techniques

    • Surveillance strategies

    • Documentation requirements

    Let’s assume that you have finished process server training. The next step after researching local laws is to get certified, if this is an option in your state. Certification processes vary by state. In some states you may have to complete a background check and submit fingerprints. Almost all states require you to obtain a surety bond in order to become a professional process server.

    Once you are officially a process server, the first real step in getting started is to determine who should be served in each type of case. For individuals, you should serve the person you are suing. If you are suing multiple individuals, you should serve each person separately. If you are suing a single business owner, serve that owner. If you are suing a partnership, you only need to serve one of the partners. However, if you are suing the business and the partners, you must serve each partner. If you are suing a limited partnership, serve the general partner, general manager or an agent for service. If you are suing a corporation, serve an officer or the agent of service. To sue a city or county, serve the city clerk or agent authorized to accept service. To sue the state, serve either the state Attorney General’s office or the California Department of Transportation, depending on what entity you are suing. If you are suing your landlord, serve the owner of the building where you live.

    Regardless of the type of service you use, you will need to sign the Proof of Service detailing how service was done, on whom, where and when. Make a copy and take the original to the court clerk to file while keeping the copy.

    Well, I’ve given you a lot of information so far. But maybe the best way for you to understand process serving is to give you an example.

    Example: Process Serving in California

    To begin, there are several types of people who can be process servers in California. You can be a:

    • Friend, relative or coworker

    • County sheriff or marshall

    • Professional process server

    • Anyone who is both over 18 and not a party to the case

    Regardless of who you are as the process server, you must:

    • Be 18 years or older

    • Not be a party to the case

    • Serve the papers within the time limit required

    • Fill out a proof of service form that tells the court who you served, when, where and how

    • Return the proof of service to you so you can file it with the court

    Remember, you never want to serve papers on yourself, only the other party to the legal action.

    Serving Papers Under California Law: Types of Service

    In California, there are many types of service that are legitimate under the law. These include:

    • Personal service

    • Substituted service

    • Service by mail

    • Service by Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt

    • Service by posting on the premise and mailing (for eviction cases only)

    • Service by publication

    • Service by posting at the courthouse

    • Service by certified mail (small claims only)

    • Service by certified mail (for a party who is out of state)

    • Service on someone who lives out of the country

    For personal service, a third party to the case delivers the court documents to the opposing party of the case. You can deliver the papers at their home, work or in the street. You must identify the party being served and hand the papers to that party. In the event the party won’t take the papers, it’s enough to lay the papers in front of them on the ground. Even if they throw away the papers or tear them up, the requirements for serving process are fulfilled. There’s no requirement for a signature.

    Personal service is the most reliable type of service and is therefore used most often. It is valid in all cases. It is also generally required when serving the first set of papers in a legal case.

    Another way to serve papers is by mail. If the person action is being taken against is an individual, it’s enough to mail the documents to their home or mailing address. For a company, you must mail the papers to the owners at the business’s main office. If there is an agent of service, the papers should be mailed there. Service by mail is considered complete 5 days after mailing.

    While serving papers via the mail is easy, it’s not the most reliable way. Courts can never be sure whether the person actually received the papers. Because of this, service by mail is only allowed in certain circumstances. Check California law to see if the type of case you have allows service by mail.

    This type of service is only used after other more reliable sources of service have failed. A process server must first try to serve the papers at the party’s home or office 3 times on different days and at different times. If they have exhausted this requirement, the process server can leave the papers with someone at the home that is over 18 years old. They can also choose to serve the papers at the workplace by leaving them with someone in charge who is over 18.

    The process server must then provide the name and address of the person accepting the papers or a detailed physical description. Then, the server has to mail a copy of the papers to the other party at the address where the papers were left. Finally, you must write up a Declaration of Due Diligence and Proof of Service. This type of service is considered completed 10 days after the day the papers were mailed. This is not the most reliable form of service so it isn’t allowed in every case.

    In some cases such as civil or family law cases, a party to the case can agree to be served by mail if they sign a document with the court stating that they received the papers. This happens when the server mails the papers to the other side with two copies of the Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt. The other side then signs one copy and returns it to the server who then fills out a Proof of Service. Service By Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt is considered complete on the date the Acknowledgement is signed by the other party.

    Known as “nail and mail”, this type of service is only available for eviction cases. Service by posting and mailing is usually only available after several attempts at personal service have failed. To post and mail the papers, you need the landlord’s permission first. Once you’ve failed to serve the other party several times and have been unable to leave the papers with someone over the age of 18 via substituted service, you can then serve by posting. To do so, you must first complete a Declaration of Due Diligence and then file an application asking the court’s permission. When permission is granted, the server has to post the summons in a place where the tenant is most likely to see it. They also must mail a copy of the summons at the tenant’s last known address by certified mail. A Proof of Service also has to be completed. This type of service is complete 10 days after the papers are mailed.

    This is another type of service that is to be used after personal service attempts are thwarted. Service by publication occurs when the process server publishes the summons and complaint in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the other party is likely to see it. You must complete a Declaration of Due Diligence and an ex parte request for the court order allowing you to serve by publication. This type of service is only permitted with the court’s permission. Note that service by publication is not allowed for custody and support of minor children. Service is considered complete at the end of the 28th day after the first date the summons and complaint are published in the newspaper.

    This type of service includes the server or the court clerk posting the summons and complaint in a designated spot in the courthouse. Before the court will approve this method, you have to show that you tried every other avenue to getting service on the other party. Most courts require at a minimum that you try to find the other side at his or her last known address, at their place of employment, mail letters to the last known address with forwarding address requested, call the other side’s friends and family to ask about their whereabouts, look for the other party in the phone book for any city they may be and search the Internet. To engage in this type of service, you must complete a fee waiver, write up a Declaration of Due Diligence and complete an ex-parte request for the court order. Service is considered complete at the end of the 28th day after the first date the summons and complaint are posted.

    This type of service is only available for small claims court. There is a $15 fee to serve the defendant by certified mail. Service by Certified Mail is complete on the day the certified mail receipt is signed.

    If the other party lives out of state, it is typically allowed for the paperwork to be served by first-class mail, postage prepaid and return receipt requested. The person sending the papers must be 18 or older and not be a party to the case. After completing a Proof of Service, it is completed on the 10th day after mailing the papers.

    In these special circumstances, you may need to follow the rules set forth in the Hague Convention. This is a particularly complicated way of serving papers. You should carefully check the requirements to do so and make sure you follow them closely.

    It’s important to understand the distinctions between each type of service and when it should be utilized for the best outcome.

    What Are Some Process Serving Laws That Must Be Followed?

    Although process servers get creative when delivering legal papers, they still have to abide by strict laws that govern what they can and can’t do.

    For instance, the rule of proper jurisdiction is very important. It’s a universal rule that the service of process must follow the laws that apply to the court that issues the process.

    Other laws that must be obeyed are state and local trespassing laws. A process server is restricted from trespassing on property to serve papers. Not only will instances of trespassing cause the service to be invalid, but there are also penalties for those process servers who do trespass in the line of duty.

    Process servers are also required to follow deadlines as outlined in the law. Most states have a deadline for completing service after filing the summons and complaint.

    Another law that may or may not apply in your state is that some states prohibit the delivery of documents on Sundays, holidays or election days unless under special circumstances like a court order.

    Finally, some states require that you certify your GPS to prove that you attempted to deliver the papers to the other party.

    While these laws make process servers’ jobs harder, they are also intended to protect both the process server and the person being served.

    How Much Do Process Servers Get Paid?

    You’re probably wondering at this point “how much do process servers get paid?” Process servers have immense flexibility in their jobs and can work full-time or part-time. Most process servers are hired as independent contractors. The average pay for a process server is $24.30 an hour. The total amount of money you make, however, is dependent on how many documents you deliver so it can be very profitable for the right motivated individual!

    Now that you know how to become a process server, let me give you a glimpse into the daily life of a process server.

    What Does the Daily Life of a Process Server Look Like?

    Every day as a process server is a little bit different and a little bit the same.

    After receiving my assignment, my first step is to research the defendant. When I do this, I’m searching for things like a current address, current employer and any other information that will tell me how to contact them. Social media is great for tracking people down, as is a simple Google search. However, not all defendants are trackable online due to out-of-date or omitted information. When this happens, it’s time to get creative. I may have to reach out to friends or family to get a current address or employer. Unsurprisingly, not all of these people are thrilled to speak to a process server. But sometimes, I get lucky and a jaded ex will dish the dirt on their former lover or a family member will fill me in on the latest in their relative’s life.

    Here are some surefire ways to find someone in order to sue them:

    • Send a letter to the person’s last address

    • Find out from the local post office whether the person left a forwarding address

    • Call “411” for the city they may live in and see if you can get an address or current phone number that way

    • Search free online telephone directories

    • Check out online sites that search for people

    • Look through social media sites

    • Use a reverse telephone directory

    • Contact friends and family of the other party

    • Reach out to past employers

    • If the person owns property, search property records

    • Search to see if the person is in jail or prison and follow the special protocols

    Once I have the contact information for the defendant, I make a first attempt at delivery via either their home or place of employment. Usually, this first attempt is unsuccessful. This is where surveillance comes in. I stake out their home and learn their schedule so I can maximize my chances of success. Stakeouts require stamina, patience and luck. It may take me only a few hours to discover a good way to deliver the paperwork or it may take several weeks.

    Once I’ve learned the defendant’s schedule or pinpointed the best time to approach them comes the hard part: actually getting service of the documents. This includes getting them to identify themselves. There have been many times where I have pretended to be a delivery driver or other professional when identifying yourself is part of the transaction.

    Here comes the tricky part: what constitutes “acceptance” varies by state. In some states, the defendant must physically accept the documents. In others, the defendant has to merely touch the documents. Still other states only require that the defendant identify themselves. This is another part of the job where research skills are vital to your success!

    Once I have served the papers, a “proof of service” is then filed with the court. This proof of service fulfills the Due Process requirements in state and federal law.

    And voila! Service is completed and you get to sit back and collect your hard-earned money.

    Easy-peasy, right?

    Wrong!

    While in process serving training, I met a man who would become a friend and mentor to me as I navigated my first process serving assignments. Charles “Hound” DiLaurentis is a retired Army intelligence officer to whom I am forever grateful for taking me under his wing. He was known as “Hound” because of his otherworldly ability to sniff out defendants, no matter what kind of extraordinary measures they took to evade the service process. Together, we had many adventures and I learned everything I know from him.

    You probably won’t believe the outrageous situations I’ve found myself in while trying to serve legal documents. Most people are not very happy when they find out legal action has been taken against them and are… let’s say reluctant… to accept the papers. In fact, some go to extraordinary measures to prevent service of process.

    The most common ways parties avoid service are:

    • Not answering the door

    • Not going outside their home

    • Lying about their identity

    • Staying at a friend or family’s home

    But no matter how hard they try to dodge service, a good process server always gets their mark, even if they have to resort to unorthodox means.

    Challenges in Process Serving

    Like any profession, process serving comes with challenges. These challenges may vary based on what state you are in and your experience level. Challenges you may face include:

    • Geographic diversity

    • Cultural and language differences

    • Legal updates

    • Safety concerns

    Depending on the case, you may have to travel through both urban and rural areas. This requires the ability to navigate or use apps to find your locations. You may also have to travel long distances to get from one place to another, so a working vehicle is a must.

    As a melting pot, America is full of different people who have their own languages and customs. Therefore, it’s important to be well-versed in other cultures, including cultivating linguistic diversity. Depending on the culture, natural things to us like shaking hands may be considered rude.

    Although being a process server allows you to use your creativity, you still have to operate within the confines of the law. Unfortunately, laws change rapidly and a process that may have been legal two years ago may not be anymore. It’s important to keep abreast of updates to laws so that you aren’t operating contrary to them.

    The nature of this job is such that it can be dangerous. It’s not unheard of for a party to be armed or respond with violence. Knowing how to keep yourself safe while on the job is vital.

    Stay tuned until the end of the article as we look at some of my craziest service of process stories!

    Technology in Process Serving

    Increasingly, technology plays a vital role in a process server’s job. The use of technology improves efficiency and enhances their services. In California, technology has affected process serving including:

    • Electronic document management

    • GPS and mapping tools

    • Electronic affidavits

    • Database searches

    • Mobile apps

    These systems allow process servers the ability to organize and track documents they need to serve more efficiently. Reducing paperwork streamlines the entire process, reducing paperwork and ensuring documents are served within required timeframes.

    This technology helps process servers get from Point A to Point B in the fastest and most inconspicuous manner. They also confirm that the process server has reached the proper address. Finally, in some cases you can get your GPS certified to prove that you attempted personal service.

    In California, some courts use electronic affidavits. This streamlines the process and is more efficient than traditional affidavits. It makes the job easier and faster!

    One tool I personally use frequently are online database searches. These can help you locate the other party and verify their address. Online database searches are particularly helpful when dealing with evasive clients.

    The invention of mobile apps changed the game for process servers. Depending on the app, you can get real-time updates, electronic signatures, secure communications with the client and more. It’s like having a process server field office right in the palm of your hand!

    What is the Career Outlook for Process Servers?

    Because process servers are an integral part of the legal system and are used by every state, the career outlook is positive. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of available jobs for people who assist in the legal system is projected to grow by 14% through 2031. This is an even faster rate than most other occupations! Suffice to say, being a process server means you get to have a rewarding career with unparalleled job security. 

    Now comes the fun part: you get to hear all my wildest stories from my years as a process server! In no particular order, here are my Top 5 Craziest Process Serving Stories:

    Craziest Process Serving Stories

    Who Let the Dogs Out?

    My very first assignment was almost my last. Hound and I had gotten a service request from an attorney we were friendly with to deliver a child support summons for overdue child support. An internet search failed to reveal a current address or employer. As luck would have it, a social media search was more fruitful: he had a girlfriend listed and her address was online. We made plans to meet at her house the following day, bright and early.

    I started having reservations as soon as we pulled up to the rundown house. Multiple signs warning us of dogs were posted along the chain link fence. Hound wanted me to get experience, so he sent me to the front of the gate where there was a small camera. I approached the camera and stated my name. However, I made the mistake of waving the papers around as I did and realized a second too late that with that motion I had identified myself as a process server. Next thing I know, the gate swung open, but instead of being opened to let me in, it was opened to let the guard dogs out! I dove into the backseat of the car and Hound peeled out down the street - we were almost dog chow!

    Lump of Coal

    Another memorable incident occurred right around the holidays six years or so back. I was tasked to serve papers on a woman who had been dodging other servers for weeks. In a stroke of brilliance - or maybe insanity - I decided to deliver the papers on Christmas, dressed as an elf. When she came to the door, all she saw was a grown man in an elf costume, holding a huge present. When she opened the door, I sang “Christmas delivery!” She willingly took the package from me (which contained the papers) at which I told her she had been served. Needless to say, the expression on her face was priceless. I undoubtedly threw a lump of coal onto her Christmas celebrations. Hope Santa wasn’t watching when I did that one!

    Shame in Your Game

    Another time I was tasked with serving papers on a defendant who was being sued over personal injuries in a drunk driving incident involving a golf cart. The guy had dodged several service processors already, and I was called in to get the job done. Through some social media research, I discovered that he coached a Little League team in the area. I decided to go undercover as a concessions worker to get close to him. I rented a food cart, piled it high with soft pretzels and made my way around the field yelling “Soft pretzels! 2 for $10!” I kept my eyes on him the whole time and waited for the perfect opportunity to serve him. When he was within shouting range, I yelled out his full name and “Duck!” Thinking a stray ball was headed his way, he instinctively ducked. As I was in a state where physical contact with the papers isn’t necessary, because he had identified himself, all I had to do at that point was bag up my remaining soft pretzels and enjoy the rest of the game! To sweeten the pot, I actually made about $50 off of soft pretzel sales!

    Covid Divorce

    During the Covid lockdown, many divorcing couples were in the awkward position of living in the same home. I got to feel that awkwardness firsthand when I was instructed to serve divorce papers to a wife whose husband had caught her cheating. Because they lived in one of the first states to go into lockdown, they were caught unaware by the situation. Since no one could leave their homes, they were unable to find other accommodations and were forced to continue living together throughout the lockdown. Although they were about to be ensconced in a bitter divorce case, this couple had to “play nice” in order to get through the day with each other. Needless to say, they were both at their wit’s end before I entered the picture.

    When I arrived, the husband let me into the building. Unsure of how to get his wife to come to the door to accept the papers, the husband went inside his apartment and waited. I knocked on the door and, after what felt like an eternity, his wife came to the door and I was able to serve her. I wouldn’t have wanted to be that husband stuck inside with his furious wife for months!

    The Mystery Wedding Guest

    One of the wildest process serving jobs I had was a well-known businessman who was being sued for big bucks by his former business partner. He dodged me several times when I tried to serve him at his home and his work. By snooping through his social media, I discovered that he was getting married the following weekend. I laid in wait and formulated a plan: how was I going to get inside the wedding when there would undoubtedly be security? A daring plan began to take shape as I focused on my point of entry and execution.

    The day of the wedding, I dressed in my best suit and tie. The bride had posted on the social media of a printing company that she was unsatisfied with her invitations. She also posted a picture of the blurry invitation to support her claim that the invitations were unsatisfactory. All I had to do was print off a copy on nice thick paper to create a fake but convincing wedding invitation. I then put the papers inside a money card and addressed it to the couple.

    When I arrived at the venue with papers in hand, I waved the invitation in the face of the security and entered the lavish event. The wedding went off without a hitch. As we flowed into the reception space, I added my fake money card to the pile of presents. But I wasn’t done yet. I boldly approached the groom and introduced myself saying I was a second cousin to the bride. The groom introduced himself and we chatted a few minutes before I got a piece of cake and slinked off to the corner to wait. After awhile, the couple went to the gift table and began to carry out the wrapped presents and open the money envelopes. Excited by the bulk of the money card envelope I had left, the groom eagerly tore in. His face when he realized he had been served was so comical I almost laughed! I finished my cake and savored a job well done. I’m sure his honeymoon was a nightmare once his new wife found out he was being sued for $100,000!

    No matter what kind of crazy circumstances surround my process serving, it is always new and exciting. I’ve never had a dull day on the job. It’s rewarding knowing that I am protecting Constitutional rights. It’s also downright fun sometimes playing “spy” and hunting down the target.

    Whatever your reasons are for becoming a process server, you can have a rewarding career that is flexible, worthwhile and challenging. One day soon, you’ll have your own stories to share! Just remember that process servers exist for a reason - we uphold due process laws and prevent individuals from being deprived of life, liberty or property unfairly. This important role has been around for a long time and, based on projections, the profession is going to continue to grow.

    I hope that helped explain who process servers are, some of the challenges they face, the advantages of the job, and how process servers are an important part of a democracy. I wouldn’t trade my job as a process server for anything. It’s part of who I am and I am proud to be a steward of justice - while the kid in me loves “playing spy”!

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