How service of process began in the United States.
How service of process began in the United States
Service of process is a way of notifying the other parties in a court case by delivering them the documents filed in that lawsuit. The purpose is to inform the respective parties that a lawsuit was filed against them, as well as to provide them with the opportunity to respond to the proceeding before the court, or other legal body.
In the United States, service of process is required by law; however, A process server is required to deliver the court documents, which are called “process.” The process or legal documents can be multiple types, including but not limited to, a subpoena to produce documents or testify in court, a writ, a formal complaint, and/or a summons to appear before the court.
The rules regarding who, when, and how to serve legal documents are very specific. That’s why people hire a private process server to notify the other parties, such as a defendant and/or respondent. Moreover, it’s often difficult to locate other parties to the lawsuit.
Interestingly, the service of process is governed by the laws of each state, however, the methods of delivering the process to the other party or parties or almost the same everywhere in the United States.
History of Service of Process
Service of process has been an essential part of the judicial system for a long time. The United States legal system considers it a standard that ensures that due process is followed. But when did the service of process originate, and how old is this system? Civil procedure rules can be traced back as far as the early 13th century.
Magna Carta and Service of Process
The Magna Carta which laid the foundations for individual rights in the Anglo-American world, was granted by King John in 1215 to avert the threats of a civil war. This is the first document in known history that not only outlined the liberties held by individuals or ‘free men,’ but also established that everyone–including the sovereign–is subject to the rule of law.
Originally, the Magna Carta led the way for service of process and process servers in its clause 39, which read, “No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimized, neither will we attack him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”
This clause granted individuals a right to due process or a fair trial. Consequently, the concept of a process server came into existence since it was necessary to notify those involved to appear in court for a trial, in order for a court proceeding to be fair and lawful.
The process servers serve notices and documents, which are essential to ensuring a fair trial. When an individual is not informed about a court proceeding taking place against them, they will not be able to defend themselves—nullifying the right to due process.
The Magna Carta has influenced not only the human rights laws in the Anglo-American jurisprudence, but the very basic parchment of the Constitution of the United States of America. (I would end this section with this sentence. It’s very powerful)
In the late 17th century, when America was shaping its fundamental laws, and the Constitution, it benefited from the Magna Carta. The chapter discussing the basic rights in the United States Constitution (1789), the Bill of Rights (1791), and the 14th Constitutional Amendment (1868), all echo the Magna Carta with tangible inspiration taken from this first-ever written agreement between sovereign and subjects.
The United States Constitution and Service of Process
The spirit of the Magna Carta legacy lives on in the United States Constitution, which guarantees its citizens’ rights. Due process is specifically mentioned in the 5th and 14th Amendments.
Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Similarly, the 6th Amendment explicitly states the need for a process server to provide legal notice in order to ensure a fair trial: “…the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial…to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation…to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor…”
Current Status of Service of Process
Throughout the history of the right to due process, the importance of service of process has grown, and so too has the role of the process server in the fair and lawful conduct of trials. Currently, Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the service of process in the cases filed in the district courts of the United States.
Most states require a neutral adult to serve court documents. For this purpose, litigants in the United States prefer hiring a private process server. However, many states, for example, Florida, allow you to personally complete the service of process, or can direct the United States Marshal to deliver the documents, at no cost to you.
In the United States, there are thousands of professional process servers who locate those involved in a court proceeding and serve them papers in major cities and small towns. They fulfill a great responsibility of properly notifying citizens of their involvement in court cases, to ensure they could have a fair chance to defend themselves in trial. By doing so, process servers are not only ensuring individuals’ right to due process, but also helping maintain the rule of law.
The Future of Service of Process
Due process has existed since 1215. Its importance increased with the evolution of the judicial system. The same is true of service of process; it will remain in place as long as the United States exists and its constitution holds–but it will evolve.
The United States legal landscape is changing with the introduction of automation, electronic notices, and many other technological advances. Service of process will likely continue to change as technology advances. Service by certified mail, which you can use, by paying the clerk’s office a fee, is an example of this evolution.
However, the need for a private process server will always be there due to the sensitivity and difficulty involved in this matter. Besides, you often get only a certain time frame to deliver the documents to the other party. So, you cannot afford to waste time locating the other party on your own or relying on other methods to inform them about the legal proceedings.
There are many benefits to hiring a private process server to complete your legal needs. A private process server has an in-depth understanding of the laws surrounding service of process. Additionally, they serve notices to individuals who are either hard to locate or who attempt to avoid service. They save you time and help you avoid potential mistakes that people often make while taking on the burden of personally completing the service of process. Contact us today!