Serving the Paper: Your First Attempt
Posted August 2, 2018 in Process Service
By Andrew Gowing
The other day I got a chance to get out and back in the field to serve a TRO on an ex-girlfriend who had used a razor blade to slash up all of her ex-boyfriend’s furniture. One thing we always teach is to know the papers you are serving and be prepared. Now, given that I was not her ex-boyfriend and that she lived in the nicer part of LA near Beverly Hills, I knew I was probably safe. However, I was sure to be cautious, not let my guard down, and have an exit strategy.
Beyond safety, I also remembered what we teach about how to handle your first attempt.
Verify the Address
- Check for Names
- Check with Neighbors
- Gas & Electric Meters
- Use a Door Mark
Note Additional Details
- Cars in the Driveway – License Plates
- Property Management Name and Number(s)
- Does the property look vacant (No Curtains, Under Renovation, For Sale Sign)
Communicate with the Client Often and Turn Your Work in Promptly
I rolled up on the address and it was an old house that had been converted into a multi-unit apartment complex, with locked access, and an electronic directory. The client gave us no suite number and the subject was not listed in the directory (Check for Names). The Property Management Office was in the directory and I made sure to give them a call and note the phone number (Note Additional Details), there was no answer.
As I was on the front porch, a kind neighbor opened the locked front door for me and I explained I was there to see “Jane Doe” and it was very important that I find her (Check with Neighbors). He explained that he did’t know a “Jane Doe,” but he did offer up the access code for the front door so that I could come back later if she wasn’t there today. Very helpful. This kind neighbor also knew that a single female lived on the bottom floor at the end of the hall, I hit the door and it was not her and she had never heard of “Jane Doe” (Check with Neighbors).
When I came back around to the front of the building, a mailbox was swung open, and mail was hanging out of it. Could I really be this lucky to get the access code and this be the mailbox of the “Jane Doe” I was looking for? Jackpot! There was a small package that was large enough to keep the mailbox door from closing. Mail was freely hanging out and on the address label was “Jane Doe,” Suite 206. Boom! I now had the suite number and confirmed the subject did receive mail at the address (Verify the Address). I now had much more information than I had before I got there.
I went up to Suite 206 and knocked on the door, there was no answer. I did notice that there was a dog inside the residence and there was also a dog walking/sitting service lock box on the door (Note Additional Details). This would seem to indicate that the subject is often away from home and might be hard to catch.
All of the information I had gathered was immediately communicated to the client as soon as the attempt was concluded and I was back in my car. The work that was put in on the first attempt made every attempt thereafter that much easier and the client knew I was doing a thorough job. Doing this with every paper will build your reputation as a good process server and people will know that you are reliable and that you don’t shy away from putting in the work to get the paper served.