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COVID-19 Impacts on the Process Serving Industry

 

Follow this page for the latest updates and relief opportunities.

The following resources are intended to keep the process serving industry informed during this global health crisis. We plan on keeping this page updated with ideas to keep your business running, opportunities for financial relief and places to seek alternative streams of income.

If you have additional resources or information to share, head over to our Facebook Group for Process Servers to join the conversation, or feel free to contact us.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please consult the CDC guidelines and seek medical advice.

 

COVID Webinars

Register for the next webinar

Register now for our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, April 14th at 12 pm Eastern Time. Process servers across the nation will discuss how to prepare your business for the additional work that will flood our industry when the pandemic ends.

 

Watch the Latest Webinar

Surviving COVID-19 Part 6

April 28th, 2020 | 10am MST

Guests:

  • Jared Deahr | HSPS
  • Bob Rusch | Windy City Process
  • Justin Jeffries | ServeManager
  • Chad Jolly | ServeManager
 

Stay updated on the latest discussion of COVID-19 and how it’s impacting the process serving industry. With hundreds of registrants each week, these webinars are the best place to get your questions answered while also hearing from others in the process serving community.

 

State by State Association Resources and Court Announcements related to Service of Process

Editor's Note: We are doing our best to provide you with the most timely and accurate information but be aware that changes are occurring at a very rapid pace. For the most accurate information, check your specific state and county websites.

California

Last update: May 7th at 3:00 p.m.

Here is the list of businesses that are considered essential accordance with Executive Order N-33-20. Service of process is considered essential if what is being served will keep the judicial system moving forward but there is a temporary allowance for service by email if certain conditions are met.

The most accurate information will be found on the court’s specific website but you can check on the status of multiple courts by using the First Legal tool that tracks the latest court statuses below. Most courts remain completely or partially closed.

 

CALSPro Announcements
On March 27th, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts.

Colorado

Last update: May 7th at 3:00 p.m.

Colorado is now moving into the second stage of quarentine precautions called "safer at home." Coloradans are no longer ordered to stay home, but are strongly advised to stay at home. Critical businesses are open and non-critical businesses are operating with restrictions.

On March 30th, Governor Polis provided this Guidance on Service of Process on Executive Branch Departments and Agencies which, due to the closures of these locations, orders alternative methods of service rather than serving these employees and officers at their personal homes.

PSACO Announcements
Stay caught up on the Surviving COVID-19 webinars hosted by the Process Servers Association of Colorado (PSACO) and ServeNow. These weekly webinars update you on everything you need to know to keep your process serving business functioning during the crisis.

Delaware

Last update: May 7th at 3:00 p.m.

On March 13th, 2020, Governor Carney declared a State of Emergency and has since issued 15 modifications. On March 22nd, he ordered non-essential businesses to close at 8:00a.m. on Tuesday, March 24th. As of now, “legal services” are considered an essential business. Check Delaware's coronavirus official website for more updated information.

District of Columbia

Last update: May 7th at 3:00 p.m.

Mayor Bowser has extended the Public Health Emergency, Stay at Home Order, and Closure of Non-Essential Businesses through May 15. Check the District of Columbia's Situational Updates for more information.

According to Office Order No. 2020-10 put in place by the Office of the Attorney General, in-person service of process to employees on behalf of the Attorney General will not be accepted during this time. Litigants may continue to serve process by mail, pursuant to applicable court rules. Alternatively, for the duration of the time that the Office of the Attorney General operates on telework status, a litigant may serve process by emailing all required papers to [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected], in lieu of in-person service of process. For service to be accepted, the required papers must be emailed to all three email addresses.

Florida

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

On May 4th, Florida began phase one of its three-phase reopening plan put in place by Governor DeSantis via Executive Order 20-112. Social distancing guidelines are still in effect statewide though certain businesses have been allowed to open at limited capacity.

On April 21, 2020, Chief Justice Canady issued AOSC20-28 to create the workgroup on the continuity of court operations and proceedings during and after COVID-19. The workgroup had its first meeting April 23, 2020 and is expected to make a variety of recommendations to the Chief Justice on how and when court operations can resume. This is the one of the most recent Administrative Order issued by Chief Justice Canady in response to COVID-19 in the Florida State Courts System.

The Florida Association of Professional Process Servers (FAPPS) has referenced several useful resources:

Georgia

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

Though Georgia partially reopened on April 24th, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton extended the Statewide Judicial Emergency. The emergency, initially declared on March 14th, will be extended for a second time until Friday, June 12th.

Illinois

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) released a statement indicating that those holding active licenses under the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004 are not subject to the stay-at-home directive.

Many Illinois courts are open for emergencies only. Additionally, the Illinois Supreme Court has issued extensions for deadlines in the Appellate Court and Supreme Court. Check here to find information about your local courthouse or contact the clerk in your county or appellate district.

Massachusetts

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

On April 20th, 2020, House Bill 4647 provided for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 Emergency. The moratorium took effect immediately and will expire 120 days from April 20, 2020, or 45 days after the Governor rescinds the COVID-19 emergency declaration, whichever occurs first.

Following the issuance of Trial Court Emergency Administrative Order 20-7 on April 6th, 2020, Massachusetts courts are open for emergency matters, but the courthouses are closed to the public.

Maryland

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

On March 23, 2020, the Governor of the State of Maryland issued order Number 20-03-23-01 Prohibiting Large Gatherings and Events and Closing Senior Centers, and Additionally Closing All Non-Essential Businesses and Other Establishments. Interpretations of section J have been that process servers remain essential. Note that most Maryland debt collection attorneys have voluntarily suspended cases as most of the courts are closed until at least June 5th with the exception of family law and other emergency cases. We suggest contacting MAAPPS (The Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Process Servers) for further discussion.

Michigan

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

On May 6th, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously approved Administrative Order No. 2020-14, requiring courts to follow a careful, phased approach in returning to full capacity. Court plans must be based on the advice of local health experts and be approved by the State Court Administrative Office prior to implementation.

Per the State Court Administrative Office, the Michigan Association of County Clerks, and the Michigan Association of Counties: Essential services provided by courts include functions involving the health and safety of children and vulnerable adults and meeting due process rights of individuals accused of crimes. For example, judges must be available to arraign criminal defendants and hear bond motions, to grant personal protection orders, or appoint a guardian when someone's health or safety is in jeopardy, to protect children who are being abused, to incarcerate those who threaten public safety, and to issue emergency orders to address this public health crisis. Court clerks must be present to record these proceedings.

Mississippi

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

The Supreme Court since March 13 has issued seven emergency orders regarding court operations related to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and more orders are expected. The Supreme Court has ordered that courts must remain open for business while taking appropriate steps to protect public health and safety.

On March 24th, Governor Tate Reeves signed off on Executive Order 1463 instructing Mississippians on the social distancing measures the state is implementing to combat the spread of COVID-19. This order includes legal services as "an essential business or operation."

Nevada

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

According to Nevada's 8th Judicial District Court, as it relates to Service of Process: Accomplishing personal service may pose a significant challenge at this time. Motions to extend service of process must be filed prior to the expiration of the time to serve. Properly documented service issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be considered good cause for a timely motion to extend service of process. For the 30 days following the entry of order 20-09, no subpoena may be issued by an attorney under NRCP 45 without advance approval of the discovery commissioner.

Governor Steve Sisolak provided a COVID-19 update that detailed plans to reopen safely. Find the latest information and resources including emergency directives and social distancing guidance.

New Jersey

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

On March 27th, the Supreme Court of New Jersey extended the restrictions on movement and activity recommended by the NJ DOH and CDC, as well as provisions of Executive Order 107. The restrictions will remain in effect in its entirety until further notice.

On March 19th, Governor Murphy issued stay-at-home Order 107 which, due to lack of clarity and response from government officials, leaves many process servers wondering whether they can continue serving. The New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association (NJPPSA) sent out an announcement detailing their consideration of how other states with similar orders have handled such orders and their determination that it will be up to each individual company to determine how to handle the situation. In the announcement, they also include items that servers should take into consideration when making their decision.

New York

Last update: May 8th at 12:00 p.m.

Governor Cuomo issued executive orders 202.17 and 202.18 requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.

On March 22nd, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts ordered that “no papers shall be accepted for filing by a county clerk or a court in any matter of a type not included on the list of essential matters.” This directive is effective immediately and until further order and applies to both paper and electronic filings. Read through the order here and learn what is considered “essential matters.” 

While the existing ban on the filing of new “non-essential” matters remains in effect, it has been announced by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks that a temporary “virtual court” model is being expanded beyond the limited category of essential and emergency matters. Read this press release for more information.

If you would like to apply for a New York process server license, in-person, mail, and phone assistance are currently unavailable. However, you can still apply for or renew a license online or contact a representative via email. Note that Consumer Affairs is extending certain license expiration dates and renewal application deadlines for licenses that expire from February through June 2020. 

NYSPPSA Announcements
On March 25th, Jason Tallman, President of NYSPPSA, reached out to New York State's Empire State Development office to determine if Process Servers and Process Serving Agencies are considered "essential business" during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reply ensured that process servers and agencies are considered an "essential business," meaning process servers can continue to serve if they choose to. Continue to follow the CDC Guidelines to protect yourself and others.

NYSPPSA is offering free certification classes for members and encourages members to take advantage of this time off to get certified. The classes will be run by Larry Yellon.

As part of the CARES Act, independent contractors are now able to apply for unemployment benefits through the New York State Department of Labor. If you are an independent server and are no longer receiving any work, follow the directions under "If You Are Not Traditionally Eligible for UI Benefits."

For more information for New York process servers, NYSPPSA compiled a list of resources on their website.

Email

Ohio

On March 22nd, the Ohio Department of Health issued a Stay at Home order for all of Ohio which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. the 23rd and will go until at least April 6th. While many legal support firms have suspended service of process, it is still generally believed that process servers are exempt and should determine what is best for them.

Texas

Last updated: March 30th at 11:00 a.m.

Before serving process, you should reference the shelter-in-place and stay at home orders issued by the individual cities and counties. It is generally believed that if "legal services" are listed as an essential service that service of process is permitted and that process servers are considered an extension of the Legal Services industry. You should confirm this with the courts in your area.

Check here for court closures, partial closures and delays throughout Texas. Here is a good thread on Facebook where process servers in Texas are discussing the topic.

TPSA Announcement
FREE Continuing Education Webinar. In an effort to provide financial relief to those Process Servers affected by COVID-19 the TPSA is offering this 8-Hour Continuing Education Webinar free of charge. To qualify for this Webinar your JBCC Certification Expiration must be before June 30th 2020.

The TxAPPS Board published a post addressing whether Texas process servers are considered an "essential business." The JBCC advised that process servers refer to the courts while the OCA "Court Operation Guidance" recommended that the courts implement "email service and notice" whenever feasible. Ultimately, TxAPPS concluded that, "as a business owner or self-employed person, individual process servers reserve the right to decide if they are serving and what they are serving."

Virginia

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia has declared a judicial emergency for all district and circuit courts to go into effect from March 16 to April 6. Non-essential and non-emergency court proceedings are suspended and all deadlines are extended for 21 days. Please read the Virginia Judicial Emergency order for more information.

Virgin Islands

On March 19, effective March 23rd, Chief Justice Hodge signed an administrative order suspending all non-essential judicial branch services. “With respect to the Superior Court, all deadlines in pending cases that have not yet passed shall automatically be extended by 14 days or to April 27, whichever is longer; the period from March 23 through April 26 shall be excluded from the calculation of time to effectuate service of process.” However, electronic filing and electronic service of process are accepted. Read this article for more information about the order and what is considered an essential service.

 

The Latest Court Closures and Restrictions Across the US

 

Law360 has created this resource to track court closures across the US. Hover over your state to see the latest updates.

 

Seek Relief and Aid

Disaster Loan Assistance for Small Businesses


SBA Relief, Financial Assistance

The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters. Up to $25,000 in relief via unsecured loans is available. Beyond that loans will need to be collateralized.

  • Learn more about the CARES Act: Breaking Down the Stimulus Package for Process Servers and Legal Support Businesses. Apply here for the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • At ServeNow and ServeManager, we’re not that much different than our customers. We run a small business, and cash-flow can be tight. We’re feeling a lot of the same pains as we stay committed to our employees, vendors, creditors, and customers. That said, we’re making concessions to help the industry during these trying times. Please contact your rep to discuss options.

  • Erin’s List raised over $30,000 for process servers affected by Hurricane Harvey. They hope to raise much more to support process servers during the pandemic. They are currently accepting applications (and donations) to their Process Server’s Relief Fund.

  • The Treasury and IRS have delayed the tax payment deadline by 90 days. The federal government will give filers 90 days to pay income taxes due on up to $1 million in tax owed.

  • Contact your mortgage lender as payments may be deferred. Also, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend “all foreclosures and evictions” through the end of April.

  • The US ordered a break on mortgage payments. Learn more here:

 

Alternative Income Opportunities

This emergency WILL end and, when it does, the industry will be stronger than ever. Litigation is strong in good times and even better in bad. If your business is slow, or stagnant right now, there are still opportunities to earn money. Here are a handful of companies that are currently ramping up.

  • This LinkedIn article by Get Hired includes currently hiring companies in a variety of industries from Chipotle to Office Depot. Explore their list to find something that works for you.
  • Here’s a Fast Company article on other areas to seek employment from grocery stores to tech companies that enable remote work.
 

Personal Wellbeing

There is no doubt we are in unprecedented times. This uncertainty causes doubt and fear that can hurt our mental state. Instead of causing more panic, take time to find ways to ground yourself and find comfort. Here are some tips from the ServeNow staff that will hopefully help you and your family navigate staying at home.

Create a new maintainable routine

Try to wake up at the same time and get ready for the day, even if you are lounging in sweats. Instead of snacking all day long, make meals an event to break up any remote work. Try to maintain an exercise routine by taking walks around the neighborhood (don't forget to keep 6 feet between you and others) or an exercise YouTube video.

Creating a realistic routine (we don't expect you to put a suit and tie on) that you can actually maintain helps you feel in control of your situation.

Create a New Office

It is best that you work and sleep/relax in a different spot or room if your living situation allows. This helps your mind separate what to do in each space and will make it easier to fall asleep and easier to focus in each respective place.

Whether you choose to work at your kitchen table or have a dedicated desk, make the space as similar to your normal office. Set up monitors and bring whatever materials are necessary. Instead of getting up to retrieve items, bringing them all to one space will help you focus.

Staying at Home with Family or Roommates

Staying at home with the same individuals can be difficult as we all require some time to recharge. If you have a family with a partner, try your best to rotate childcare. If you are a single parent, some states are allowing childcare if the group is under 10 individuals and the caregiver only looks after the same group. All parents, single or not, should look to resources to entertain and teach your children. Many schools are going online and some cable companies, like Xfinity, are expanding their TV-learning sections.

If you are living with roommates, be sure that you respect their space. Be extra mindful of cleaning up after yourself to make your home more welcoming (and clean of the virus!). Depending on your situation, come up with a plan for how to respect boundaries but still maintain a happy social life.

Reach out for Support

Almost everyone feels isolated or is craving support during these times. Reach out to friends and family to see if they need help or just want to connect. The best way to bridge a social gap from afar is to use video calling technology, like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and FaceTime.

Use this rare opportunity to talk to old friends that you've been meaning to call or touch base with your great aunt to hear that story of how your grandparents met.

If you are feeling alone yourself, chances are your friends are too. Don't wait for them to reach out, make the first step!

If you feel uncomfortable going to the grocery store for necessities, call a neighbor, relative, or friend to see if they can pick you up anything. Another option is to check out your neighborhood on NextDoor to see if anyone you know has offered to help, or make an offer yourself! Please be aware that there are several scams right now about people offering fake help to the vulnerable. Do not give money or personal information to someone you do not trust or cannot provide references.

Mental Health

ServeNow has always maintained that process server health is paramount. If you are feeling mentally unstable, seek help. Reach out to mental health professionals, friends, and family. There is no shame in seeking treatment for mental health issues, especially now.

Physical Illness

If you are feeling unwell during the COVID-19 pandemic, look to reliable resources to review your symptoms. The CDC is the best place for nationwide information and how to take appropriate steps. Right now, the CDC is recommending to stay home and isolate unless you are in need of medical assistance. Call your primary medical provider and follow other CDC guidelines here. If you are short of breath, have consistent chest pain/pressure, confused or cannot be easily woken, or have a blue tint to your lips/face, call 911 and get medical attention immediately.

Do not take any medications that are not prescribed to you or that you are not already taking to prevent coronavirus. For example, do not take chloroquine phosphate to prevent coronavirus, as a man recently passed from doing this. Chloroquine is poisonous if not taken correctly.