What Role Does Process Serving Play in the U.S. Judicial System?

Process Server

Blog originally published on August 27, 2015. Updated on August 2, 2022.

When America was founded and officially broke off from England, it was time to make our own rules. We were able to start from scratch with our country's legal system and create laws that would govern everyone as fairly as possible. While there were a few bumps in the road with this process, we were able to establish a country that has a successful justice system.

In order for our justice system to work, we created the due process of law, which means that every citizen is treated fairly under the judicial system. To ensure every citizen is treated the same, we also established strict rules on how to file lawsuits and other legal documents and how to inform the other party that they are being sued. This is the reason for process serving, which plays a critical role in an American citizen's due process.

What Does A Process Server Do?

Anytime you take legal action and file a lawsuit, the writ, summons, or other important court documents must be served to the other party. Both parties must be notified of any action that is taken against them under the law. The party must have the complaints, subpoenas, divorce papers, order to show cause, or any other action document served to them. This allows both sides to prepare their arguments and have a fair chance at representing themselves in court.

Process serving is critical during any type of lawsuit or dispute because if the documents are not served properly, the party will not know what action is being brought against them, who is involved with the dispute, what date to respond by, and the dates to appear in court. Once a process server presents the legal documents in person, neither party can use the ignorance excuse in court. The legal document will also include which jurisdiction the dispute will be held in. This is vital in lawsuits because each state, county, and city have different laws and will apply their laws differently depending on the case. One party can argue that the lawsuit should be disputed in a different court or jurisdiction once they receive the information. 

Strict rules apply to process serving, and each state handles it differently. Because serving a defendant can be complicated, lawyers and other legal professionals will hire a process server to deliver legal documents. Sometimes multiple process servers are necessary to track down elusive individuals involved in the legal proceeding.

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