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Service of Process & Affordable Court Services

October 19, 2010

In addition to private investigation, the bulldog does quite a bit of process serving.  It certainly wasn’t the plan when I began Bulldog Investigations, but approximately half my business currently involves service of process assignments.     My intention was to offer process serving as a means of establishing business relationships with law firms and individual attorneys.  How has the means transformed into an end in itself?

It’s proven unexpectedly difficult to get insurance adjusters to “think outside the box” and utilize a more effective, albeit smaller investigative agency.  I guess hiring ineffective, investigative behemoths (see my blog entry regarding  ‘Advanced Investigations’) where a lot of palm greasing transpires is somehow preferable.

Living in a more rural part of Virginia, a state with a huge fraudulent insurance claims problem; I had anticipated a lot more demand for an experienced, effective, surveillance investigator to work these sorts of cases. Being apparently mistaken, unexpected additional availability to provide process serving was the end result.  Fortunately, I happen to be exceptionally good at it. 

Pollock’s Process Serving:                  

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, just what is “service of process?”  The website provides some excellent insights on the matter:

Service of Process is when legal documents such as summonses, complaints, subpoenas, writs and other court documents are delivered to the individual to whom the legal document is directed. Service of Process must be served by an individual who is not a party to the case.

What does a Process Server do?

A legal process server delivers (or serves) legal documents to a defendant or an individual involved in a court case. The process server must serve the documents in accordance with the legislation in the area of service. This may mean handing the documents to the defendant personally or sub-serving to someone in the same household or business. Once the documents are delivered, the process serving agent must provide proof that the papers were served. This is done through a document call an Affidavit of Service, also called a Proof of Service, which must be notarized and given to the party who requested service.

Process servers will also file your papers with the courts, can do document retrieval and may offer various types of investigations: skip trace, people locates, surveillance, etc.

Process Servers in Virginia:  The Good, the bad, and the ugly.

Unfortunately, the economic downturn has caused an influx of  additional process servers into the field… and some strike me as questionable.  One such recent addition came across my desk recently:  Affordable Court Services, Christiansburg Virginia

Apparently the owner of that company is a Jon Merrix, a rather unique name.  I doubt there’s more then one in Christiansburg.

Out of curiousity I decided to run his name through the Montgomery County Court system.  Christiansburg is a small city, population of approximately 20,000 people.  In Virginia, unless you’re running a full fledged all encompasing Private Investigators report such as through IRBsearch, court records are public information but it’s a hassle to get them because you have to search each county individually.    In other states (such as Maryland), you can run a name through an all encompassing statewide system… alot more effective.

In any case, I can’t be 100% sure that this is the same Jon Merrix, but unless there are two floating around which reside in Christiansburg I would say that it’s rather likely.  Additionally, as mentioned this is only for Montgomery County, there could be other records floating around from other counties.  The results of the search follow:

If we’re talking about the same Jon Merrix, I’d think twice about using Affordable Court Services.

Additionally I noticed that on, a primary process service referral website, Affordable Court Services is listed as a member of NAPPS (the National Association of Professional Process Servers).   Wait a minute now…I personally found that becoming a member of NAPPS was more challenging then joining some  private investigation associations.    NAPPS personnel not only verified  my related experience and letters of recommendation,  I also underwent a waiting period for additional verification regarding my company.  Finally, after the other steps, the general membership became aware of my application via the NAPPS newsletter.   This is done in order to give NAPPS members an opportunity to deny  new admissions into the organization if they regard an applicant as questionable.     You don’t just mail in a check and become a member in NAPPS.  There’s alot more to the process and I respect the organization for that.

 NAPPS membership simplified is “the gold standard” for process serving.  It helps distinguish the professional process servers from the occasional tinkerer. 

Below is Affordable Court Services’ Serve-Now listing (based on information provided by the company owner, and supposedly verified by a Serve-Now representative):

Yet the company doesn’t show up in the NAPPS directory, easily verifiable via their webpage:

How odd.  I do however notice that yours truly is listed.  Hmmm…..  The possibly  falsified NAPPS credentials Affordable Court Services has listed on is what motivated me to post this ramble.

Attorneys: Please, Please, PLEASE do your homework on someone’s credentials prior to enlisting their services.  Just because a phrase or buzz word shows up on someone’s business card, doesn’t mean that it’s true.  Additionally, I find it irritating that Serve-Now apparently isn’t doing their homework regarding credentials verification.

“Bulldog, aren’t you concerned about a slander lawsuit?” 

 Whenever someone goes on record with a statement they open themselves up to the possibility of problems.  My understanding however is that it ain’t slander if it’s true.

Everything contained here is available publicly through Internet searches and checking information out for oneself.  If more people did that, the world of business would be a better place.  Sue the Bulldog for posting publicly accessible truth?   Good luck with that.


From → process serving

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