We have client who has been trying to serve process on a defendant who has been evading service. I won't bore you with the details of the service attempts. However, trust me when I tell you that we reasonably conclude that if we make contact with the defendant she will deny being the person we are trying to serve. Time is running out on this case and she must be served within a couple days. We have a general biographical description so I proposed running an asset check to identify her vehicle. We then stakeout her last known address and look for a subject matching the description of the defendant who is utilizing the vehicle with the tag registered to the defendant. We then serve her with the process as she enters/exits the property. I also proposed specific stake out times when people tend to come and go from their homes. It's not perfect but its all we have given the amount of time we were given to serve her.
The attorney proceeded to research methods of tricking people into revealing their identity when they refuse to cooperate. He found a list of suggestions on a blog from a national process service website and he sent them to me to use on this matter. I redacted the name of the national process service company. I analyzed those "tricks" and this was my response:
"I am aware of those “tricks” but we have to be careful how we serve people in Miami-Dade County. Every year at recertification, we are reminded that we cannot serve people by tricking them or under false pretense in Miami-Dade County. It invalidates service and servers can lose their licenses and be removed from the approved list of process servers. Investigating her identity can be done by one of our investigators but it will take longer than we have in this case. I make suggestions that comply with our local rules to protect our servers and to give our clients the best possible outcome.
Be careful relying too much on articles from that company. Much of the information contained in their articles does not always comply with all local service rules. They are a national process service company and they churn out as many articles as possible to get listed higher on google searches rather than to disseminate good information. They know that Google web crawlers scan blogs and articles and identify keywords and phrases such as “process-service” or “evading service”, etc. They then pepper their blogs with these key words and phrases and they also use those words and phrases in the tags to be picked up by the web crawlers. This increases the possibility of their website being flagged as an authority on a topic and be place higher on search results when those keywords or phrases are used. However, as you can see, the information they provided is in stark contrast with our local rules and relying on that information can mess up your case.
Should we proceed with the original plan as it was proposed?
The attorney saw the light and made the right decision.