Hello there and welcome back once again to the Lafayette Process Servers LLC podcast. I am your host, Barsher. Today we will be discussing a vital topic. Why is it important for a process server to document all details for each job? Process servers know they must carefully follow their state statutes and regulations that mandate precisely how to serve processes in a variety of situations and what to include in a proof of service filed with the court under penalty under perjury. But just as important for the process server is the creation and maintenance of complete and accurate records of each case of service attempted or made. First, if a person in a lawsuit challenges the service of process, the server must be able to demonstrate its validity. Second, government regulators are stepping up efforts to oversee the profession and want proof that process servers are performing their duties correctly.
Valid service of process is a prerequisite for a lawsuit to proceed. So, it is not uncommon for a named defendant to take the earliest opportunity to stop or delay the litigation. That person may file a motion to quash the service of the summons and the complaint. In the motion, that person may allege one or more of the following:
- (1) that he or she was not served at all,
- (2) he or she was not served by a valid method under law or in a correct manner, or
- (3) that the proof of service is incomplete or incorrect. To uphold the validity of the service, the process server must be able to show that a consistent, quality record-keeping system is in place and that proper practices under law are always followed. This gives credibility to the server in defending this instance of service of process; that is, to show that service was validly made, and that the filed proof of service is technically complete and sufficient. Another reason for good record-keeping is that government authorities around the nation are stepping up efforts to look beyond the documents filed by process servers – to make sure that service was made.
Regulators have become increasingly concerned in recent years about a practice they have dubbed “sewer service”: a failure to serve the documents despite a proof of service declaring that service was completed. For instance, the New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (NYCDCA) issued more than 300 subpoenas on process servers for their records on their global positioning systems (GPS). Earlier, the NYCDCA had claimed “sewer service” was common, leading the City Council to pass an ordinance requiring GPS tracking to verify the servers were in the locations on the dates and at the times specified in proofs of service. The due date for the return on the subpoenas has passed, and undoubtedly there will be significant follow-up enforcement and penalties in appropriate cases.
This type of increased scrutiny and oversight can be expected in all jurisdictions in the U.S., including California. For these reasons, establishing a comprehensive record-keeping system is a fundamental part of the job of every competent, professional process server that benefits the legal system, all the parties, and the server. Registered process servers must always know and understand the complex laws of process-serving.
Maintaining a system of organized, accurate and consistent documentation in the workplace is both necessary and beneficial. Making documentation a priority, especially when it comes to the company’s human resources (HR) department, can help mitigate disputes, offer resources when they are needed and answer important questions about the company. Develop trust with clients. Client trust is central to a successful process serving practice. That trust is founded on the basics: process servers know what they’re talking about, care about their clients, work hard, and attend to the details and do all this transparently, efficiently, and affordably. Documents with errors—from seemingly insignificant typos to missing contractual clauses or mis-cited case precedent—zap trust. After all, if process servers aren’t looking after the details of their documents, what else are they missing?
Attention to detail is what law is all about. If you sell to law firms, in-house legal teams, and lawyers generally you should maintain excellent attention to detail or risk losing your sale. So, what is attention to detail? Attention to detail is thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing a task. Behavioral indicators of an individual or organization demonstrating excellent attention to detail include the below:
- Provides accurate, consistent numbers in all paperwork
- Provides information in a useable form and on a timely basis to others who need to act on it
- Maintains a checklist, schedule, calendar, etc. to ensure that small details are not overlooked
- Follows policies, procedure, safety, and security measures in using various equipment or managing data
- Their work product requires little or no checking, having been successfully proofread and sense checked beforehand
- Writes down important details in messages or communications so the details are not lost or forgotten
The document lifecycle is a comprehensive, consistent approach to document drafting from start to finish. It starts with a uniform method of creating documents, leveraging previous content to maximize efficiency and minimize errors of omission. This requires caution, though: starting from an old draft can also introduce outdated content or formatting inconsistencies.
Once a document has been generated, it needs to be checked or reviewed for factual or organizational errors, formatting, typos, confusing sections, and more. In addition to human error, we’ve found that as many as 15 percent of new document files become corrupt during drafting. This introduces another layer of problems to watch out for.
Finally, most documents require at least some collaboration or additional review. But sometimes collaborating creates more headaches than helpful comments, especially when multiple conflicting versions are created, or confidential files are shared without appropriate security measures. Collaborative efforts that create a single, synthesized version of a file improve turnaround time and allow for truly meaningful review. Obviously, potential hazards lurk at every stage. That’s why employing an effective document lifecycle is much easier when a single vendor provides a wraparound solution that encompasses every part of the process. When process servers work with one client, they can stick to one toolbar and one workflow, which means they can step through the document lifecycle without omitting or missing anything and without wasting time switching programs or converting files. So, the saying goes. And it’s true. Laser focus on perfection at all costs usually means nothing gets done.
So, that concludes our time together here today. Be sure to check out the podcasts on our sister sites www.lafayette-process-servers.com , www.baton-rouge-process-servers.com and www.metaire-process-servers.com to learn answers to even more of your process serving questions. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!
Barsher with Fiverr is area copywriter. The foregoing article has simply been presented for informational purposes only. She, and those at Lafayette Process Servers LLC, are not attorneys. If you seek further information about this topic, contact an attorney in your local area.