If you need to serve legal papers, New York has an entire industry devoted to helping you — the industry of process service. New York has scores of process service businesses, and most of them are professional outfits that know their business.
A Glimpse At the Past
The right to due process — which includes the right to be served papers announcing precisely what manner of legal proceedings you’re being involved in — is a right set forth in the US Constitution. Every citizen is also protected by the fifth and sixth amendments to that Constitution, which lay out various rights including speedy and public trial, indictment by a Grand Jury, and the right to face your accuser.
Process servers were created in the earliest days of America to execute those Constitutional rights by serving people and organizations with legal notices. Originally, this duty was performed by county sheriffs, but they were busy enforcing other laws, and as the population (and land area) of the young country grew, the need for professional process servers grew with it.
Modern New York
Today in New York, process servers not only serve legal documents, they also file court papers and retrieve filed court documents. Their primary task, however, is still making sure that people get the legal papers they need.
Many people think of process servers as people they want to avoid, but the fact is that the courts will find you one way or another — or if they don’t, you’ll be in even worse trouble as they judge you en absentia or fine you for contempt of court. In truth, process servers are doing right by you — they’re just there to inform you of something you have a Constitutional right to know about.
The primary expertise of a process server — outside of being able to find people who don’t want to be served — is attending to the legal details of serving papers. If the paperwork surrounding a service isn’t properly filled out, an entire case may be kicked out of court. That’s why New York process servers are almost universally true professionals at their craft.