Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bad Apple banned from serving process

A recent court case in northern Michigan highlights the reality that one bad apple can sometimes spoil the whole bunch. Fortunately, Judge Laura Schaedler did the right thing when she banned an Adrian, Mich., man from ever serving process papers again in the United States.

The 33-year-old man received the ban after pleading guilty to falsely reporting that he had served court papers. He also was placed on probation for a year, fined $600 and ordered to pay $2,204 in court costs.
As a member of the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS), a worldwide organization with over 2,000 members representing all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces and several countries, I applaud Judge Schaedler for taking the appropriate action and sending a strong message to people who think they can scam the legal system.

In the Internet age, word spreads quickly if a process server fails to provide satisfactory service to a client or if a bad apple skirts the law and leaves a black mark on the industry. Regrettably, too many people don’t know what a professional process server actually does, and a few who do often are misinformed and have an inaccurate perception of a process server’s role.
A professional process server is an independent third party that delivers legal notices to parties and witnesses in legal actions, ensuring that individuals have the ability to exercise their right to due process and have access to the legal system.

The professional process servers I work with feel very strongly that our role is critical in a functioning legal system. We ensure people’s right to access and being heard while following a strict code of ethics and professional conduct established by NAPPS.

We also are committed to being accountable, reliable and valuable to our clients, the courts and the parties and witnesses we serve. The legal system has to work for those we serve; it’s an opportunity to be heard.

Professional process servers have never been busier during these tough economic times, dealing with a rising number of collections, foreclosures and other legal matters. The NAPPS leadership team views a breach of the rules as a very serious matter. (Incidentally, the person sentenced by Judge Schaedler in Michigan was not a NAPPS member.). Punishment ranges from a reprimand to expulsion when a member violates the code of conduct.

It’s important to note that it’s rare for a NAPPS member, who joins willingly, to violate the association’s code of ethics. NAPPS leadership definitely has a self-interest in being accountable; our commitment to professionalism is paramount to our success and to your ability to have your day in court – something Judge Schaedler in Michigan certainly understood when she handed down her sentence in Adrian.

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