Filing a lawsuitis not an easy decision, and it often has long-term repercussions for all parties involved. After collaborating with an attorney to determine that a lawsuit is the best course of action, the attorney then drafts, files, and serves a petition to the defendant named in the lawsuit. Like other processes in litigation, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure have specific instructions for how to serve a petition properly.
Issue and Service
Soon after the plaintiff’s attorney files the petition, the clerk of the court issues a citation that will be served to the defendant. Tex. R. Civ. P. 99. The process server must validate the exact day and hour of receipt of the citation from the court clerk. Tex. R. Civ. P. 105. A local sheriff, constable, or private process server then locates and serves the defendant. Tex. R. Civ. P. 103. Because both a sheriff and a constable are government employees, they are not directly compensated for serving the petition. Law firms often choose to hire a private process server to diligently and efficiently serve the petition. Since this person is hired and paid by the attorney, he or she is usually more motivated to find and serve the defendant, who may be avoiding service.
Return of Service
Once the petition is served, the process server must also provide evidence in the form of a Return of Service to the court, validating that the defendant has been served. Because service of the citation is central to court proceedings, Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 107 exactly outlines the information required in the Return of Service:
(1) the cause number and case name;
(2) the court in which the case is filed;
(3) a description of what was served;
(4) the date and time the process was received for service;
(5) the person or entity served;
(6) the address served;
(7) the date of service or attempted service;
(8) the manner of delivery of service or attempted service;
(9) the name of the person who served or attempted to serve the process;
(10) if the person named in (9) is a process server certified under order of the Supreme Court, his or her identification number and the expiration date of his or her certification; and
(11) any other information required by rule or law.
Given the critical nature of properly serving the petition, a plaintiff definitely benefits from the expertise and connections of an experienced attorney, whose knowledge of litigation will pave the way to success.
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