Recent reports of systemic problems of service of process in New York and elsewhere have reinforced to me the value of having some regulation around the statewide service of process. The Federal Trade Commission just released a new report entitled "Repairing a Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration," which highlights the anecdotal information available (pp. 8-9, footnotes omitted):
Although no empirical data were presented or submitted, panelists from throughout the country estimated that sixty percent to ninety-five percent of consumer debt collection lawsuits result in defaults, with most panelists indicating that the rate in their jurisdictions was close to ninety percent. . . .
Roundtable participants differed as to whether inadequate or improper service is prevalent. Many consumer advocates and judges who adjudicate debt collection cases stated that inadequate or improper service occurs frequently. One local official reported that her agency’s comprehensive investigation of process servers in New York City revealed that “many are not performing service. They are filling out false affidavits of service. They are not going to the addresses. They are not sufficiently checking the addresses." A Chicago judge explained similarly that one of his colleagues had conducted a “spot audit” of one process server and found that he “claimed to be in areas thirty miles apart in the Chicago-land area within minutes . . . . And we [asked,] ‘Is he Superman?’”So I think the Supreme Court of Texas was prescient in taking on some minimal qualifications check for people who will be permitted to serve process for courts throughout Texas. But not all are fans; there seems to be one or two citizens out there in particular who have complained to the legislature, filed a federal lawsuit (which was dismissed), complained to the State Auditor, and who knows what else, about the very existence of the PSRB. Meanwhile, the number of process servers in the program has gone from 1,200 grandfathered in 2005, to 5,300 this month. Clearly there are people who want to do this work, and equally clear, we need to know and approve of who they are.