Serving Process at Court.. Goldmine or Mine Field.
Serving a Defendant at the Courthouse can be one of the easiest and safest serves one can complete. Courthouse serves are a gold mine because they're in a public venue with tons of security and its fairly easy to catch a Defendant off guard and unaware. That said a Courthouse serve can also be a varitable minefield especially when the serve involves serving an Attorney, Judge, Court Officer and sometimes if the circumstances are not just right, a regular Defendant. Serving a Judge outside of Chambers unless its at home is ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. You dern sure don't want to do it OR for that matter serve anyone in Open Court. ( I've been hired a few times because a previous Process Server didn't have sense enough to know this was a really bad idea). You absolutely don't want to serve something during a trial in plain view of everyone..it can be deemed inappropriate, prejudicial and challenged regardless if it pertains to that case or not. If not done with impartiality to a fair legal hand in mind can be disastrous for all parties involved. Waiting to serve Process until Court can present more costs as well.
Aside from having to have something re-served and incurring another Service Invoice when Service was challenged, I have been hired a few times when an attorney or other Process Server didn't attempt service and banked on a Defendant coming to Court and then they didn't resulting in having to go to a second address and or a substantial " Rush" fee. Worse it can land you and your Client with a Contempt Charge.
Serving someone at Court is always a good place when you have an evader because their mind is on whatever happened in Court and for some reason they think they are safe there.. but I usually like to catch a Defendant leaving the courthouse AFTER everything is over.... In this case, I think I'd have waited for this Attorney mentioned in the article if he was evading
( article doesn't say if the attorney was or wasn't.. but I have had 1 or 2 to do it and had to get creative ) at his home or office or while in transit from his car.. I always try to serve an Attorney it when it's a personal matter at home. This is to avoid their embarrasment, and is Professional Courtesy but if they don't give me a choice, they don't give me a choice ( it's always a plus when you serve an Attorney and they appreciate you've spared them the indignity and ask for your business card should they have future Process needs. ) The fine was only $10 in this case .. but who wants to be known as the one who got their hand slapped at Court, caught a Contempt charge or cost their client more money by it affecting their case with a delay or even a dismissal?
A Service Opportunity that presents at the Courthouse has its advantages. Its safe, secure, and if done correctly near about unchallengable. However one must keep in mind the appropriate where and when or it can cost your client everything and land you or your client in jail.
- Chris Wilkinson is the CEO, and Senior Investigative Process Server at Smoky Mountain Process and Legal Services since 2017. Chris lives with her fiancé and their two 4 legged canine kids near downtown Knoxville. Chris enjoys visiting all the natural wonders and beauty East Tennessee has to offer, playing with her dogs and going on adventures with her fiancé in her spare time.