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Illinois Association of Professional Process Servers Opposes Proposed Bill

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The Illinois Association of Professional Process Servers (IAPPS) was recently formed to provide education and training to the profession of process servers in Illinois. Our Association has established a Code of Ethics and Best Practices. Our members are committed to practicing the highest professional standards.

Recent publicity in Cook County by a Chicago Sun Times columnist being awakened by a process server at 5 a.m., who refused to identify himself, and other unseemly events like this, has led to the introduction of punitive legislation aimed at the profession of all process servers, not just the ones who habitually run afoul of professional standards.

ILAPPS opposes as currently drafted two identical bills filed in both chambers: SB2069 sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins and HB1450 sponsored by Rep. William Cunningham:

Synopsis: Creates the offense of false impersonation of a peace officer while serving process. Provides that a person commits the offense when he or she, not being a peace officer, knowingly wears a coat, hat, or other clothing while serving process that reasonably creates the impression that the person is a peace officer. Amends the Code of Civil Procedure. With respect to the requirement that a person who is a licensed or registered private detective or a registered employee of a private detective agency must supply the sheriff of any county in which the person serves process with a copy of the person’s license or certificate, deletes language providing that the failure of a person to supply a copy of the license or certificate to the sheriff does not impair the validity of process served by the person. In a provision that allows a court to appoint a certified private detective agency as a special process server, deletes language allowing any employee of the private detective agency to serve the process under the appointment.

False impersonation of a police officer is already a class 4 felony offense 720 ILCS 5/32-5.1 (West 1994).

All of our members are licensed private detectives or employees of private detective agencies. Serving process in some neighborhoods requires an agent to be armed for personal protection. Illinois law allows private detectives to carry concealed weapons while on duty. Other statutes, as well, recognize that licensed private detectives function in a similar capacity as police officers. This legislation would erode those powers already conferred by statute.

There exists already a regulatory authority for taking disciplinary action against a process server who is an employee of a private detective agency. The Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation has a complaint and investigations division to undertake disciplinary action against a person’s license or registration. These sanctions can include revocation, suspension, fines or censure.

This legislation would prohibit private detectives and their registered agents from wearing emblems and logos identifying themselves as private detectives on coats, hats or other clothing. There already exists a serious problem with process servers being assaulted and attacked while attempting to enter private premises, prompting Sen. Jacobs to introduce SB2004 that increases penalties for someone who commits an assault or battery on a process server. For purposes of personal protection, process servers who act in compliance with the Private Detective Act should not be stripped of having the protection of decals or emblems identifying them as process servers when they enter private property.

SB2069 and HB1450 also create an unnecessary burden on the legal system by invalidating service of process in a county where a private detective or agency fails to provide the sheriff of that county with a copy of their license or certificate [registration card for PERC employees of a private detective agency]. The current statute requires this, but states that failure to “supply the copy shall not in any way impair the validity of process.” This amendment provides another legal loophole by which a defendant to a civil action can evade the jurisdiction of courts by citing to this amendment. This would create an unnecessary delay in justice, and add additional costs to a party filing suit. For those reasons, ILAPPS is opposed to the bill as drafted.

ILAPPS proposes tabling this bill until it can work out some middle ground with the Sheriff’s Association that satisfies the intent of the current statute. Since this provision was placed into law in the 1980s, electronic mail and electronic web-based information have developed to the point where this information can be accessible to Sheriff Departments in an electronic registry. Private detective agencies are already required to maintain a current listing of registered agents with the Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulations, which provides a listing of private detectives, and registered agents (PERC employees) of private detective agencies on its website to the public. ILAPPS proposes to work with both the Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulations and the Sheriff’s Association to make this information available in a manner that is organized by each county, as well as by judicial districts.

By working cooperatively with the Sheriff’s Association, ILAPPS welcomes the opportunity to communicate the concerns of sheriffs to our members, so our members follow local rules and adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct.

Bill Clutter, ILAPPS President

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