Serving In The Courtroom

August 13, 2023

It is not a good idea to serve someone in a courtroom while the judge is there because judges hate it. Why is this so despised? Judges look on appearances at the courthouse as being mandatory, and that the totality of consequences is to be dispensed only from the judge.

If somebody gets served at the courtroom while the court is in session; judges see that as a consequence of their mandatory appearance that they did not mete out, and that is often unacceptable to them. I am a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion, please consult with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

In California and perhaps in every state, serving documents while the judge is on the bench is a no-no. If not a law, it is an unwritten rule that everybody is supposed to know as a matter of common sense, that process service is not allowed while the court is in session.

However, you can usually serve people as they are walking in or out of court. Once they leave the court building, they are fair game. Serving after the hearing of person you want to serve is good, because you will know what the person looks like, and they only have one way out of the courtroom.

Some process servers go to the courtroom when it first opens. After the bailiff opens the door, they follow the bailiff to his/her desk. They show them their registered process server ID and say something like “I have legal documents to serve on John Doe, who is supposed to appear here this morning. Can I serve him before the judge takes the bench?”

The bailiff will most likely say yes. Then, the process server says something like “Do you mind if I call out his name, or would you prefer to do it?” Most of the time, the bailiff will call out the person’s name. If the person comes to the bailiff, the bailiff will be a witness to the process server’s personal service. If the person does not respond, the server tells the bailiff something like “I will wait here a little while, please call out his name again in a few minutes if the judge isn’t on the bench yet”.

A long time ago, there was the immunity rule that covered serving people in court, however the immunity rule is no longer the law of California. See Severn v. Adidas Sportschuhfabriken, 33 California App. 3d 754 (Cal. App. 1st District 1973).

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