Adventures of a Denver Process Serving: Chapter 1
Why I Love Being a Process Server
People often ask me why I do it. If I were to say it’s just a job, something to pay the bills, it would be like saying skiing is just a way to get down a hill. There are a lot of easier ways to make a living.
Process servers aren’t the leading men (or women) of our legal system. Courtroom dramas don’t begin with our hero serving court papers. When we do get on screen, most of the time we get a part that fits an old cliché: the clever tricksters who suddenly materialize to sneer, “gotcha!” Or when process servers are featured, it is a wildly unrealistic portrayal of what we do.
And the people we meet aren’t exactly happy to see us either, and they can be rude, even dangerous (more on that later.) You’d have a better chance of making friends with an unfamiliar guard dog than you would of getting a smile from someone who has just found out they must appear in court, and understandably so. Of course, when it comes to dogs, I would much rather be greeted by a frown. Unfortunately, I say this from personal experience (more on that later as well.)
I am a process server because of the adrenaline rush that comes when every sense I have is alert to my surroundings. As much experience as I have, I know better than to approach any assignment as though it were routine. This does not mean I gear up for a confrontation. A good process server knows how to avoid escalation.
I enjoy serving papers because I do help to bring justice and right many wrongs. The integrity of our legal system is built upon verifiable procedures; otherwise it would boil down to chaotic gamesmanship. The serving of process represents the the court system stepping in as the referee to countless legal disputes, ensuring that people, weak and strong alike, have recourse when their rights are violated.
I am fortunate because process serving in Colorado is an ideal way to travel through every corner of this beautiful state. I have a job that doesn’t follow a typical nine to five day in which I am tethered to an office that might as well be in any part of the country. I get the chance to really see Colorado: whether by looking up from the foot of one of its carved mountains, or by looking down upon a colorful valley floor. I have driven through towns that put postcards to shame, places that are framed by rushing waterfalls and punctuated by soaring eagles. Every day is new and exciting.
When you hire someone, you want that person to not only be good at what they do; you want them to be enthusiastic about doing it. Most of the time, one trait cannot exist without the other. One of the reasons we started this blog is to show that process serving is more than a valuable profession, it is an adventure.
Challenges Facing the Denver Process Server Profession
How will the Industry Adjust to Rising Fuel Costs, Technological Changes, and Misinterpretation of the Law?
Like any profession, process serving must find its place amidst technological and economic changes. On the one hand, service of process will always be an integral part of the judicial system in Colorado and elsewhere. On the other, the legal industry, especially that part which specializes in corporate law, will always be on the lookout for ways to tighten costs and streamline the process.
There are three large issues that could affect independent, private process servers. The first being cyclical (one hopes), the second being transformational, and the third has been fixed in place since people began serving papers on behalf of the courts.
The rising cost of fuel affects every business and every individual. At Elite Process Servers, we pride ourselves in not passing along these costs to our customers. We don’t add on mileage or any other tacky fees. However, high gas prices influence the industry as a whole. They dictate how and where firms place their human capital, whether or not they can reach beyond state lines, and serve as one of the drivers to incorporate service of process out of the real world and into the virtual one.
Other factors are behind this push as well. There is mixed opinion as to whether service of process will ever be logistically doable through email. It’s easy to see why some would favor it: less paperwork, lower overhead, less competition from private firms, interstate and international reach.
Colorado state law makes exceptions to in-person service “only in actions affecting specific property or status or other proceedings in rem.” (Rule 4 (g)) Mail is required to be registered or certified, and publication needs to be in a newspaper of the county in which action is pending.
The United States Bankruptcy Court in the District of Colorado has made no secret of its desire to eliminate paper from its caseload. It has even required that agents who submit more than one proof of claim per week to do so electronically. Federal courts have even allowed service of process by email to be valid in those cases where prior, reasonable attempts were made in-person.
Is it only a matter of time before the laws are squared – before “newspaper” is broadly defined as any web site that claims to serve the public, or certified mail is broadly defined to include read-notification emails? Will there ever be a time when the courts can confidently say that due process was upheld via email in civil or criminal cases?
The pitfalls of this future are numerous; a few of the major hurdles include:
- As of yet, it is impossible to verify the intended recipient has actually read the email or seen the online publication amongst the hundreds of thousands that inhabit the internet.
- Companies and individuals will not readily adjust their Firewalls to accommodate agents acting on behalf of those making claims against them.
- A significant portion of defendants will always be disadvantaged when it comes to computer access or computer literacy, for whatever reason.
One factor that has always – and will always – present a challenge to the process server profession is the ignorance of the general public when it comes to service of process. I could be optimistic here and say there is a possibility that awareness can be raised and widespread education will ensue, but I think that would be a tad myopic.
There are people who believe that if they avoid any physical interaction with the process server the court will just give up and shrug, “never mind.”
More dangerously, there are those who believe that when a process server knocks on their door, if they do it often and loudly, they are trespassing and are subject to the same consequences as a robber caught in the middle of their living room.
Like most aspects involving the legal process, wisdom comes mostly from having to go through the experience firsthand, although it is fair to say your average defendant is not going to greet court papers guns a’ blazing.
Serving Notice the Right Way
Minimize Time and Energy with Professional Process Servers
Reliable Denver process servers know the court filing process is often the most crucial element in legal disputes. When service of process is executed properly, it can be an effective bulwark against civil cases needlessly going through a costly and consuming trial. When a settlement cannot be reached, affidavits must be able to withstand scrutiny.
For example, Rule 304 (h) in the Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure states in reference to Amendment of proof of service:
At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any summons or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the summons issued.
The consequence of an incomplete or flawed affidavit usually falls to the party making the complaint; as the court must show that its actions cannot be interpreted as material prejudice against the party that has been served.
When it comes to process serving in Colorado, the only way to be sure to avoid unnecessary risk is to go with the people who know the importance of meeting their client’s long term needs.
Cost saving in the short term is also important. Timing is everything, and professional process servers work with their client’s schedule. Rush Service, Priority Service, and Same Day Service are options that are not available unless it is through a company with infrastructure and experience.
Court officers work on their own schedule, and oftentimes, a client will pay more in fees, mileage, and “Actual Expenses” for less timely service of process. When one considers the additional costs of waiting, not choosing professional process servers really starts to add up.
Professional process serving exists to remove a burden. In a legal dispute, there are plenty of other factors to worry about.
Process Serving rules in Denver Colorado:
A reliable process server is your first line of defense against losing your case.
You have been wronged. You have filed legal action against the offending party. And now it’s time to make sure they get served up that big stack of paper from the court letting them know that a case has been filed and they are a part of it.
But how do you know where to go for reliable process service? Depending on the type of case or the jurisdiction under which the lawsuit was filed, there can be strict rules involved when it comes to serving legal paperwork. Some companies and individuals are not properly aware or equipped to handle this important responsibility which can leave you and your case at risk.
By using dishonest or incompetent process servers many negative issues can occur. Improper service can result in a counter case against you and the process serving company. It can also create a situation where the legal responsibility of the case rests on the fact that the defendant/respondent didn’t receive their paperwork using a legal method and or time frame. Sometimes, if the defendant/respondent does not show up to court because of improper service, the case may be dismissed altogether.
What is Process?
Process is the legal name given to the set of documents created by a court during legal proceedings. This paperwork allows the parties involved in a legal action written notice detailing a current case making them aware of their rights and responsibilities.
What is Service of Process?
Once documents have been issued by the court, they must be presented to or “served” to whoever is named in the legal action that has a responsibility to respond to it. This procedure must be done according to the rules within the jurisdiction where the legal action has been filed. Service of Process is another term for legal notice.
Why is Proper Service Important?
If service of process is correctly conducted, legal cases can proceed. If not, they can easily be thrown out of court causing a need to re-file a claim. If a defendant is served process properly and they then do not respond in accordance with the laws of the court they can be then found in default. For this reason Service of Process is one of the most important and original actions of a lawsuit that underpins its ultimate success or failure in a court of law!
This is why it is so important to use a Denver process server you can count on, at Elite, we go above and beyond to provide exceptional service to all of our clients in Denver and everywhere in Colorado.
Service of Process in the News
Last year the Colorado Attorney’s Office attempted to serve Douglas Bruce, political activist and former legislator, more than 23 times in relation to a series of campaign finance complaints.
That process server made 23 different attempts, but failed to effectively serve Mr. Bruce. After a three day trial, Mr. Bruce was found not guilty of contempt of court, but the issue committee he was to answer questions about was fined $11,300.00.
This goes to show that service of process is not something to be taken lightly. Make sure you get people, corporations, and public entities served correctly. Anything less can be a whole lot of headache in the end.
You’ve Been Served!
So you have been served papers. Now what?
First of all, don’t ignore them. Too many people put it out of their minds, wad them up, or just willfully ignore the papers that they have been served. This is a terrible idea.
As we have discussed, service of process is the courts way of confirming that you have notice of a pending matter. If you have notice and don’t do anything about it, you are likely to face a default judgment or other action to your detriment. You could also be held in contempt of court.
First, read the papers. They will contain valuable information that will let you know what the matter is about, and just how long you have to respond.
Second, get legal advice. Many attorneys will give free consultations and let you know the basics of where you stand. Some people who feel confident in their research and analysis skills can find out what they need to know on the internet.
Third, act accordingly. Remember, time is counting down from the moment you were served. The longer you take to get advice, the less time you or your attorney have to act to protect you and your rights.
During divorce, domestic violence restraining orders, custody issues, you may need to have someone you know served with papers.
Not only is it illegal to serve these papers yourself, you probably don’t want anyone else you both may know serving these papers either. This is a perfect case of needing a process server. Allowing a 3rd party to deliver an order of protection or other document may alleviate emotional stresses and create another (sometime much needed) barrier between the parties.
If you have questions about domestic violence protection orders, please review the information here.