Service of process is the procedure where a person or business in a lawsuit is given appropriate notice of legal action to another similar entity. In the common vernacular, this is simply known as “serving papers.” We are routinely called upon to serve these documents for civil and family law matters. While this is often a very routine and/or boring process, this week I was reminded that all our investigators need to be continuously vigilant.
A few days ago, Erin McClesky, a 36-year old process server from Austin, Texas, was killed when she was attacked by several loose dogs on the property as she attempted to serve civil papers. Law enforcement official advised that a caretaker for the dogs found Ms. McClesky’s body. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Roger Wade stated to Fox News that “there was no one at the house except for the dogs when she entered the property.” Mr. Wade later told a local Austin newspaper when asked if the dogs’ owner(s) would be charged, “they probably won’t. If the homeowner’s are not there and doesn’t sic the dogs on them, I don’t know what charges would be filed.”
The investigation revealed and the deputies confirmed they seized six dogs that appeared to be Lab/Great Pyrenees and Husky Australian cattle dog mixes. They also found fourteen puppies who were not seized.
Fortunately, although our investigators have served thousands of people papers over the past thirty-five years, no one has suffered any bodily harm. For sure, we have been run off many properties by an irate soon-to-be ex-husband of our client or a plate throwing out-of control mother who just found out the court wants to take her children away.
She greeted the investigator with a big smile and a 2-inch, 38 Smith & Wesson 6-shot revolver pointed at his nose.
Many years ago, we gave a new investigator in our office the very routine and fairly easy task of serving a 82-year old female who would not pay rent or vacate the premises. Much to his surprise, the female promptly opened the door upon hearing the knocks on her front door. She greeted him with a big smile and a 2-inch, 38 Smith & Wesson 6-shot revolver pointed at his nose.
He dropped the paper and departed the area. That service was deemed a good service by the court.
Getting people to come to their front door is often a difficult task, especially if they know the papers are coming. One of the many ruses we use is purchasing a dozen beautiful red roses in a delicate container. Knocks on the front door are usually greeted by the female opening the door to receive her special gift. Our same young investigator used this technique and came back to our corporate office very pleased with the fact the subject was served. Of course, he made a big mistake in our world.
When asked where the roses were he proudly advised that he had given them to the subject with the subpoena tucked neatly inside the flowers. He was a little red-faced when he was told that you never give the subject the flowers. You simply take the papers out of the arrangement, serve the subject and give the roses to your wife.