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Florida Process Servers To Lose Ability to Serve in Orange County

Florida process servers have received a bit of a shock last week, as those working in Orange County, Florida will lose the right to serve starting December 31st. According to current reports, the Sheriff's Department has already started the process of phasing out the current process serving program, in a movement that is being led by Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings.

Current Florida statutes state that process service is to be completed by the sheriff, except in certain instances where the sheriff can appoint a special process server. An excerpt from Statute 48.021 outlines the details below.

48.021 Process; by whom served

(1) All process shall be served by the sheriff of the county where the person to be served is found, except initial nonenforceable civil process, criminal witness subpoenas, and criminal summonses may be served by a special process server appointed by the sheriff as provided for in this section or by a certified process server as provided for in ss. 48.25-48.31. Civil witness subpoenas may be served by any person authorized by rules of civil procedure.

(2)(a) The sheriff of each county may, in his or her discretion, establish an approved list of natural persons designated as special process servers. The sheriff shall add to such list the names of those natural persons who have met the requirements provided for in this section. Each natural person whose name has been added to the approved list is subject to annual recertification and reappointment by the sheriff. The sheriff shall prescribe an appropriate form for application for appointment. A reasonable fee for the processing of the application shall be charged.

A private process server can still be designated by the county through a motion, however, given that Orange County is the fifth most populated county in Florida (with a population of 1,145,959 covering 1,003 square miles), this will have a tremendous impact on local process servers.

This type of relationship between process servers and sheriffs is not unheard of. In the neighboring state of Georgia, process servers must be granted approval by local sheriffs before attempting service. However, due to regular difficulties in obtaining approval, the Georgia Association of Professional Process Servers (GAPPS) has brought litigation against the sheriffs claiming they have conspired to prevent process servers from doing their jobs.

Florida Association of Private Process Servers (FAPPS) President Lance Randall shared in an interview with DGR Legal (Florida Process Servers Lose Ability to Serve in One of Largest Counties) that the association is currently working to determine a plan of action.

Rest assured, we are not taking this matter lightly and will continue to strive to achieve the best possible results for not just our process serving members, but for all process servers in Orange County, FL.

Lance Randall, FAPPS President to DGR Legal

Thus far, there appears to be no indication as to why Sheriff Demings has chosen to dissolve the program in Orange County.

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