Posted July 10, 2019 in Process Service
By Chad Barger, Legislative Committee Chairman
Great News for Process Servers in California!
The 2019 CALSPro sponsored bill, AB 622, was signed by our California Governor on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 and is effective beginning January 1, 2020. This bill expands CCP 415.21 (which grants Registered Process Servers access into gated communities) to include “covered multifamily dwellings” defined as either:
a) Apartment buildings with three or more dwelling units, including timeshare apartments not considered a place of public accommodation or transient lodging; or
b) Condominiums with four or more dwelling units, including timeshare condominiums not considered a place of public accommodation, or transient lodging. Guards or other security personnel, if any, must grant access to a covered multifamily dwelling, as defined, for the sole purpose of performing service of process or serving a subpoena.
The California Senate Rules Committee wrote a very pleasant analysis about the bill stating, “Case Law Emphasizes that Place of Residence Does Not Put Anyone above the Law.” Service of process is a critical first step to initiation of a lawsuit. Similarly, service of a subpoena is often essential to ensuring that a witness will appear to testify in a legal matter. If living in a gated community or a locked apartment building could entirely insulate the residents from receiving service of process or a subpoena, it would have the effect of placing those residents beyond the reach of the law, at least while they were at home. Not surprisingly, California law is clear in its statement that a person’s living situation cannot be used to avoid complying with the law.”
As the Assembly Judiciary Committee pointed out in its analysis of this bill, the California Court of Appeal has held that simply because a process servicer is unable to, “somehow manage to get past [a] locked door” is not a valid justification for a person to defeat service of process. (Khourie v. Sabek (1990) 200 Cal.App.3d 1009, 1013.) Similarly, California courts have ruled that living in a gated community is not a sufficient justification to avoid service. Where a defendant sought to avoid service of a lawsuit by, in effect, hiding out in the defendant’s gated community, the court authorized the use of substituted service of process upon a guard at the defendant’s gated community. (Bein v. Brechtel-Jochim Group, Inc. (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1387.)
CALSPro continues to improve accessibility for process servers, ensuring the right to due process, once again! This year’s legislative accomplishment could not have happened without your support, the ideas and hard work of the legislative committee and, of course, our lobbyist. Remember legislative advocacy for our membership is the most important benefit of CALSPro! The CALSPro Legislative committee continues to address and search for ways to make our legal support profession safer, stronger and thriving for years to come. It is very special to play a part in shaping the rules and regulations of the profession we love and depend upon every day.
Share your thought ideas and concerns with the Legislative committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.