by: Johnelle Rodriguez
We are not stalkers.
Sometimes, people have the misconception that process servers stalk individuals to try and obtain service or go on wild goose chases to create an encounter. It may even be perceived that servers disguise themselves as alternate personas to try and fool the individual being sought.
Although servers do have to sometimes go extra lengths to obtain service, they do not use deception by any means. Locally speaking, the Broward County Sheriff does not allow us to practice this technique.
In the older days, deception was used quite often to get people to come out of their homes. For instance, there was a situation where a process server hired a paint crew to set up shop outside someone’s residence to do some painting. The guy whom service was being attempted on came out and asked the crew what they were doing, and that’s how the documents were able to be delivered to him.
“I’ve had a lot of interesting serves,” Bob says.
Sometimes, when attempting to serve documents, the events that take place can feel surreal, as if they’re being played out in a film onscreen. But the things that happen to process servers on a daily basis are products of real life encounters.
From witnessing individuals completely disrobed to having others blatantly lie to you about their identities when you already have a description of them and know what they look like to having people hide out in their homes for hours on end because they know you’re outside waiting on them to come out of the house, each service has endless enigmatic possibilities.
Bob recalls one service in particular, where he chased a gentleman in his Ferrari around Fort Lauderdale for about 30 minutes. Being the skilled investigator he is, he went back to the man’s house and discovered from the neighbor that the man liked to take his stray dog he found for walks by the Intracoastal. He would do this in the evenings when it was already dark out and no one would be around to see him. He did this without fear of being served.
But he should’ve thought twice.
At the time, Bob had a Dachshund and took the dog along with him on this quest to obtain service. He parked up the street in a vacant lot near where the Intracoastal was. Bob heard the man coming up the street with his dog, so he released his dog, and the two dogs started doing “dog things,” playing around and exploring each other.
So Bob called his dog, and the man called his dog to calm it down. Bob approached the man, apologizing that his dog had gotten loose. He told him he was sorry to bother him and said he was here from New Jersey, visiting his son who lived up the street. The guy introduced himself, telling Bob his name and shaking his hand. Immediately after, Bob pulled the documents out from his back, where he usually likes to hide them, and told the man he was served.
Needless to say, Bob enjoyed this serve.
“To me, that’s not deception,” he says. “That’s just being creative.”
Deception would be identifying yourself as a postman or a pizza delivery man or something of that nature. It’s hard to put a finger on what deception actually is because sometimes you do have to tell a small lie to get past a guard or past a neighbor or something of that nature.
Think about it. In general, all occupations come with their own sets of difficulties, just as life has a way of throwing hurdles at us from time to time. That being said, all services are never going to be cut and dry, especially when they are taking place at residences. Sometimes, servers must think of a tactic that could cause the servee to comply if he/she is avoiding.
We can’t say we are from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, nor can we identify ourselves as deputies or use language that infers we are. Most process servers use the line, “I am a special process server appointed by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.” But if you just walk up to someone and say, “Broward Sheriff’s Office,” that’s considered deception because you are not a deputy nor a police officer nor an employee of the sheriff’s department.
So, although process servers may have to bend the truth just slightly or use a creative approach to obtain service from time to time, deception is never acceptable. ♦