Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Makes a Service of Process Valid

Picture by Keattikorn
Occasionally, when the person being served will not cooperate, the validity of the service is questioned. A popular myth is that if a defendant or witness does not accept the documents or is not physically touched with them, the defendant or witness does not need to answer the complaint or show up to court. However, in the case In re Ball, 2 Cal. App. 2d 578, 38 P.2d 411 (1934). A process server attempted to serve papers on the defendant, but after he told the defendant that he had legal papers for him, the defendant began to walk away saying “You have nothing for me”. As he was walking away and looking at the server, the server dropped the papers a few feet from the defendant and said ”Now you are served”. The defendant did not pick up the papers and proceeded to leave the premise.

According to California appellate court, the service of process was considered proper. The server was (1) within normal speaking distance, (2) informed the defendant of the nature of the document, and (3) left the papers in a place where the person served had reasonable access to them.

Ultimately, a service cannot be denied by simply moving away or by not physically accepting the papers.

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