One of the great things about living in the United States is that we have a Bill of Rights. These rights insure that we are treated fairly and justly. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the reason why we have process servers. It defines a very important concept in our legal system: Do Process. The part of the 5th Amendment that concerns Due Process reads:
No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
What this means is that before a court can act on a legal case concerning person (make a judgment) they have to be given fair warning about the court case. They also have be given enough time to prepare for what the court is trying to do. Without giving a person fair warning, then the court can be seen as treating the person unfairly or unjustly. The people who founded the U.S. had experiences of courts doing this in other counties, so that wanted to make sure that the same thing wouldn’t happen when setting up their new government.
What is Due Process?
In a nutshell due process is designed to treat a person with fairness and with respect. The National Government and each State has a legal definition of what Due Process of Law means. There are some differences in how they define due process, but the general things that all have in common are:
- Giving someone notice, generally in writing about a court case that they are being involved in. The notice should provide enough details about what is happening, and what the effect will be if the court decided against them. Also this notice needs to be given in enough time to prepare for the court case.
- The notice must also give a person notice that they have the right to grieve. Grieve is a legal term which means the right to complain or disagree with what is happening in the court case.
- The notice informs the person that they have the right to appeal if they do not agree with the decision the court makes.
Over all, Due Process helps make sure that the each court case is handles in a balanced way. Which means that both sides of the court case are given an equal chance to have their side heard and considered before the court makes a decision.
If a court decision is made, and a person can show that they were not treated fairly, or that every attempt to be balanced didn’t happen while the court was going through the legal process, then the judgment of the court can be reversed. This is not something that most courts want to happen, so they are very careful to insure that Due Process is followed.
Where does the Process Server come into this?
In many cases, to ensure that Due Process is followed, a person needs to have the court documents handed to them in person. This is a way to make sure that the person has been notified, and also documents when the person received notice of what the court is planning on doing. Although sometimes court documents can be served in other ways, such as mailing the paper through certified postal service. Process servers are generally used when hand delivering the court documents.
In many states, court officials, such as the sheriff, marshal, constable, or bailiff delivers the court documents. And in most states, other people, who are not involved in the court case, can serve the court documents.
In some states, any person who is 18 years old can serve the documents (deliver the court documents to the person in person) without any other requirements. As long as they are not involved in the case. However, some states (like Texas) have legal requirements that a person must have before they can be official process servers. These legal requirements helps make sure that Due Process is followed.
What are the legal requirements for a Process Server in Texas?
When most people hear about legal requirements, they think that a person needs a license. That’s not the case in Texas. But they must be authorized by the court to serve papers.
The laws which talk about who can be a process sever are called the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and according to Texas Supreme Court approved amendments to Rules 103 and 536(a) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure (effective July 1, 2005), there is a statewide certification that someone has to go through to become a Civil Process Server.
What is the certification to become a Process Server in Texas?
The certification process helps insure that process servers understand the laws which govern Due Process and how it is defined in the State of Texas. The steps in the process are as follows:
- Take a legal process educational course that has been approved by the Texas Supreme Court. There are many different organizations that have been approved to offer the training, and can be easily found through an internet search. After completing the course, the person will get a certificate of completion.
- Next, they fill out an application to become a Civil Process Server from the Process Server Review Board (PSRB) of Texas. The application can be found on the Texas Courts' website. The application must be typed and fully completed.
- As part of the application process, they must have obtain a personal criminal history record from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and also have their fingerprints taken by contacting the Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) who will insure that the fingerprints are done correctly.
- Once they have done all of the above steps, then that must mail the completed application (original certificate of completion, their criminal history with the original certified letter from the DPS) to the Process Server Review Board (PSRB) of Texas. The fingerprints can also be included, or they could send them electronically.
- Then they wait until the get the notice that they have been approved to be a Civil Process Server. Once they are approved, then they can contact the local chapter of the Texas Process Servers Association and start working.
Is the certification the only thing that makes a good Process Server?
Although the certification process helps insure that all process servers have the minimal knowledge of the law and skills to do their job with the rules of Due Process. Not all Process Servers are the same. Being a process server is not an easy job. In most cases, the person that they are trying to serve the papers to do not want to be found. So, a good process server needs to develop skills that help them find the person.
As a result, most process servers learn the art of skip tracing. Which is going through both public and private sources of information to find out where the person is living. Also good process servers are people who don’t want to give up. Sometimes they will have to wait somewhere for long hours, and also visit a place many times before they are able to find the person who is being served. Lastly, many process servers are starting to use more sophisticated technology, like GPS and unmanned aerial vehicles to find the person that they are trying to serve papers to.
So as you can tell, process servers in Texas need to have a minimal level of understanding of how to do their job while also making sure that Due Process is followed. However, when it comes to making sure that the papers are served in the best, most professional and effective way possible, then finding an experienced process server is the best way to go.