Service of Process Best Practices
The foundation for the legal system of our country is due process. The rights of all parties are protected in order that an unfair advantage is not gained by one over another. The beginning of due process that can ultimately lead to forfeiture of rights and property, is placing an individual or entity under the jurisdiction of the appropriate court as a result of the service of the applicable documents.
Courts have consistently addressed what constitutes notification and what efforts are necessary to insure that the opposing party is notified. Recently, the United States Supreme Court held in Jones vs. Flowers (decided April 26, 2006), that certified mail was not sufficient notice when the State of Arkansas knew that the notice attempt had failed. In reversing the state ruling, the court said, “Most Courts of Appeals and State Supreme Courts addressing this question have decided that government must do more in such a case, and many state statutes require more than mailed notice in the first instance.”
As a matter of policy, the California Association of Legal Support Professionals affirms the following:
- For the purposes of these Best Practices, “primary service” of process refers to any service of process over which the court obtains jurisdiction over an individual or entity. We acknowledge many types of “secondary service of process”, referring to subsequent documents exchanged between parties following the primary service of process. The following Best Practices refer to primary service of process only.
- The preferred and most effective and verifiable method for service of process is the personal, in-person delivery of process to the named individual or entity.
- Primary service of process should be accomplished by a disinterested third party, knowledgeable of the applicable codes, who complies with the registration requirements as described in the Business and Professions Code.
- When personal, in-person service upon an individual or entity cannot be effected, the next best method of service should be in-person delivery of process to a person authorized by court rule or statute to receive process on behalf of the named party. This type of service should be preceded by reasonable diligence to effect personal, in-person delivery on the named party and be followed by some type of additional notice (first class mailing, etc.) in order to ensure notification of the party.
- When service cannot be effected as described above, the next best method of service is an alternative method authorized by court order upon demonstration of the fact that service cannot be effected by in-person delivery.