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The Future of Process Servers in Georgia is Now in Jeopardy

Over the past ten years, private and professional process servers have become a popular alternative to county sheriffs for lawyers and others who need to serve court papers quickly and efficiently. Professional process servers are known for being dedicated to their responsibilities, even in the most difficult service situations. Unlike sheriffs, who are overwhelmed by countless other legal tasks, process servers are able to focus entirely on providing clients with fast and effective service of process.

Many sheriffs in Georgia are pushing back against the growth of process servers in their state, and the controversy has now been sent to the Georgia Supreme Court for a decision.

A Sheriffs’ Conspiracy?

Back in 2010, Georgia’s General Assembly amended the law that oversees the serving of legal documents. Rules were added to regulate how somebody can become a certified process server, including the requirement that a certified process server can only work in the state “provided that the sheriff of the county for which process is to be served allows such servers to serve process in such county.”

Many are labeling this change as a conspiracy among sheriffs to shut out process servers entirely, but sheriffs assert that safety and liability are the key issues at hand. In 2013, the Georgia Association of Professional Process Servers (GAPPS) sued sheriffs in a handful of counties for “blatantly” and “unlawfully” banning them from doing their jobs statewide.

Bringing It To the Georgia Supreme Court

The Georgia Supreme Court will now have the final say in this controversy. On May 16, the court heard oral arguments from sheriffs and private process servers alike. Given that 157 of 159 sheriffs do not allow certified process servers to operate in their counties, the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision could either spell the doom of private process servers in the state or force the sheriffs to surrender their control.    

According to A. Lee Parks, an attorney for GAPPS, “It comes down to a gross abuse of discretion” for the sheriffs to have the power and desire to enact a blanket ban on process servers. Fortunately, the state of Florida faces no such challenges. Accurate Serve of Jacksonville serves the entire state of Florida with premier process services, so call (904) 735-7810 today to learn how Erin Fogarty and her team can help you.