Differences Between TV Portrayals of Process Servers vs Real Life

There are three puzzle pieces; the one on the left has the word "perception" on it, the one on the right says "reality," and the middle piece says "bridge the gap."Every year there are millions of court cases filed by attorneys and individuals in the United States. These high numbers mean that service of process/the notification system for people involved in a case is something that happens often. So, it is no wonder that TV and movies show off this work. 

Let’s review examples of process servers in TV and movies. In this article, we’ll look at those examples and compare them to serving process in the real world. 

Process Service Portrayal: All Worked Up

This show follows process servers through their daily work. As there is with every job, there are fewer exciting moments that don’t make for thrilling TV. The problem with this show is that it usually exaggerates situations. 

In this clip, you will see the individual being served starts as verbally violent and then becomes physically violent. These reactions rarely happen in real life. Being served can be an emotional experience so it is imperative that professional process servers approach people with respect. We train our process servers to remain calm and keep a low voice so as not to escalate a situation further no matter what level of irritation coming from the person being served. If the situation turns aggressive, we immediately contact the police for assistance. The majority of services are handled without this level of aggression being involved. 

Process Service Portrayal: Serving Sara

In this clip from the movie Serving Sara, a process server approaches an individual in a friend’s home. 

The process server says the right things: he asks her for her name and tells her the documents he will be handing her. Unfortunately, everything else was wrong. He was rude and entered the house almost forcibly and therefore is trespassing. Someone may deny they are the person in question but a professional process server will still leave the papers with them. We also do not enter an abode except in rare circumstances where the individual may be bedridden and we have authorization from the home owner. It is always best to never step foot within someone’s home when serving process.  

Process Service Portrayal: New Girl

In the following clip, a process server quickly hands off papers.

This approach would technically work but it could have been improved by the process server stating they have legal documents for them. Most process servers and private investigators do not say: “You’ve been served” then walk away. Process servers also do not need to wait for verbal confirmation that they have the correct person, if they know for certain who they are. If it was required that we wait for verbal confirmation, some subjects would not do so and many more papers would go unserved. Our process servers do our utmost to receive verbal confirmation of the subject’s first and last from the person being served before they are handed the documents even when we have a photo and know it is them. We state that we have legal documents and do not often use the words “You’ve been served.” 

Process Service Portrayal: Suits

In the following clip, an attorney serves papers personally.

As with most TV appearances, this is very overboard. The scene shows that the parties involved are disrespectful and dislike each other, so a neutral third-party server would be used to deliver papers. Being served during a deposition is also not in good form. If the recipient didn’t want to comply, they could try to say the service was improper and there would be complications. However, we are regularly called upon to serve individuals either before and/or after a deposition.

Partnering with Professional Process Servers

It is fascinating to see these clips and how our profession is generally understood. Each clip that was presented shows a process server doing some things right while getting other things terribly wrong. Here at Same Day Process Service, we do not have that luxury. Our servers stick to their protocol and respectfully approach individuals they contact in legal ways. 

If you need case files delivered quickly, respectfully, and affordably, contact Same Day Process Service today by calling (844) 737-8331 today.

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