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What Is A Process Server?

What Is A Process Server?

May 23, 2024
What Is A Process Server

Many people know that a process server delivers court documents for a living.  This is usually where their knowledge of service of process ends.  So, you might ask, what exactly is a process server?

A process server is a person who assists the legal system

The most commonly known role of a process server is to serve legal documents for plaintiffs or defendants in court cases.  While this description is correct in that it covers a key responsibility that process servers have, it needs more to explain the reason for having process servers in the first place.  A process server does more than just serve physical paperwork to people and businesses.  More specifically, service jobs often include proof of service submission, hours of in-person or online investigation or court testimony in instances when service of legal documents is contested.  A process server completes these additional steps to satisfy the service of process requirements set forth by the court system, which then allows people to litigate.  And so, it stands to reason that a process server’s overall function is to provide hands-on support to the legal system so it can begin or continue to operate.

A process server can serve documents for a civil or criminal case

A typical process server will serve paperwork originating from civil cases.  These cases generally include, but are not limited to personal injury, custody (domestic relations or juvenile) or actions filed in small claims court.  However, some process servers accept extremely dangerous assignments as they serve criminal defendants with a summons or complaint.  These process servers are well experienced and have gone through a number of certifications and trainings before accepting their first criminal serve.

A process server can be a licensed professional or private individual

Some of the people who fulfill the role of a process server are public servants who work as a bailiff or local sheriff, and yet other process servers are employed as an owner or employee of a privately owned process service company.  In certain states, people must have a valid license to work as a process server, and other states are rather relaxed with only a few official conditions as to who can serve documents: see Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.  Occasionally, people ask a court to assign a friend, family friend or neighbor as a process server in a civil case.  These situations, however, tend to be rare, and they also lead to procedural issues as service is quite often not perfected correctly.  Regardless, these three main points are what most jurisdictions require before a person can be assigned as a process server: 1) The person is 18 years of age or older; 2) The person is not a case party, representing a case party or related to a party; 3) The person agrees to follow applicable rules of service of process procedure.