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Challenges Facing the Denver Process Server Profession

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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Companies and individuals will not readily adjust their Firewalls to accommodate agents acting on behalf of those making claims against them.

 

  1. 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.