What is the deal with process serving?
April 16, 2012 10:03 PM Subscribe
Several years ago I was served papers for a civil suit by a process server whose demeanor I can't get out of my head. How does process serving really work? What is the cultural and legal context here?
I was home alone, after dark, and I heard the doorbell ring. I opened the door to find a cheerful, warm, approachable-looking young woman who looked completely not shady. She just said, "Are you mindsound? I have some papers for you." She held out some rolled-up documents. I said "Um," and took the papers. By the time I had unrolled them and worked out that they were related to a tort, she was walking away. So, yeah, process server.
I often wish I had had the presence of mind to stop her and ask her about her job. Her demeanor was so skillfully and subtly tailored to (a) get me to gently admit who I was and (b) get me to gently take possession of the paperwork that I feel like there must be some interesting backstory to process serving. What happens if I claim I'm not mindsound? What happens if I refuse to lay hands on the wad of papers? Why not just mail me the paperwork?
If it's relevant, this was a dumb car accident thing in Maryland, long since resolved.