This open letter to our New York servers and clients, was written in response to an article printed in a Putnam Valley newspaper, “The Journal News”, On June 22, 2007.
This article was about an upstate New York process server who was an ex cop who shot someone he was serving not once but twice.
Why on earth would a process server carry a gun? If he/she feels so threaten that they may be in harms way, they should get out of the business. Yes, all process servers at one time or another get a respondent that goes into a “rage”. But never have I thought a weapon would help me “serve the paper”.
There are a lot of private detectives/process servers in New York that are ex-cops. Their police training, in my opinion, makes them all wrong to be a process server. Many years ago I thought that ex-cops would be a good choice for process servers.
Over and over again they have proved me wrong. They came back from the field with stories of confrontations, physical altercations, arguments, etc. I asked them why? They often responded that the respondent started it. They proceeded to tell me that after they handed the respondent the papers, they got all up in my face. I asked them why they were standing around after they served the documents. They gazed at me with that thousand yard stare five feet away.
Let’s face the facts. Cops are trained to take over any situation. They are not trained to walk away. If threatened, they are trained to use necessary force to get the situation under control. In my opinion, these are bad attributes for a process server to have when serving process.
All my process servers at one time or another have come back with stories of respondents flying off the handle. It does happen, but most of the time this happens is when the process server either stands around gawking after the papers are served or if they come at the respondent in a threatening way. I have to remind the servers to just serve the papers in a non-threatening and almost apologetic manner and leave. Another good attribute, I go on to explain, to be polite, non-threatening and almost apologetic as possible. If all else fails, just leave even if the papers are not served. We will come up with different approaches or alternative means of service.
The article goes against every sense and sensibility I have. I couldn’t even imagine calling my client and explaining to them, “Yep, we got him. We had to shoot him, but we got him.” I wonder how the description in the affidavit reads, 5’ 10”, etc etc, other: two .25 caliber holes in his chest. This is not funny, but just ridiculous.
Our job is to get jurisdiction, period. Our main concern is to get the client what they want, serve the documents and above all, don’t hinder the case in any way. I don’t mean to sound callous, but our first duty is to our clients, serve the paper and let them argue the case. I wonder how shooting the respondent affected the attorney’s case?
-Bryon McKay (June 2007)