Saturday, December 10, 2011

Enforcing Judgments for the Pro Per

Unlike governments and large corporations, most often the small business or individual who represents himself or herself in court who won a judgment has limited means at their disposal to enforce their judgment. Many times, the Pro Per Judgment Creditor has won a small claims judgment or limited civil judgment. In Arizona, these are procured through the Justice Court. Having little or no experience in court proceedings, most Pro Per Judgment Creditors do not know what the assets are of the Judgment Debtor (the party who owes the judgment) and are unable to immediately collect their judgment.  Here are some means of enforcing the judgment which may be available to the judgment creditor.

Recording a judgment lien. For a judgment lien to be effective against real property, it must emanate from the Superior Court. Justice Courts can hear matters regarding possession of, but not title to, real property. A Justice Court judgment may be elevated to the Superior Court by utilizing the transcript process (ARS §22-246). If the judgment is moved to Superior Court, all subsequent proceedings must occur within that court.

Conducting a Judgment Debtor Examination. When the Judgment Debtor's assets are unknown, one way for the Judgment Creditor to find them is through the Judgment Debtor Examination. This is known as a Supplemental Proceeding under the statutes. During a Supplemental Proceeding, the Judgment Debtor (once served) is ordered to appear in court on a specified date and time to answer questions about his/her/their assets and liabilities.

The Order to Appear for Examination (or ORAP) is the document served which compels the appearance of the Judgment Debtor. Failure to appear by the Judgment Debtor may result in a Civil Arrest Warrant (ARCP Rule 64.1, et seq.). A “civil arrest warrant” is an order issued in a non-criminal matter, directed to any peace officer in the state, to arrest the individual named therein and bring such person before the court. (ARCP Rule 64.1(a))

The ORAP is usually served with a Subpoena Duces Tecum (or SDT). The SDT, served in conjunction with the ORAP, directs the Judgment Debtor to bring to court certain records pertaining to his/her/their assets and liabilities. The documents which may be indicated on the SDT are wide ranging.

Per ARS §12-1631(B), "No judgment debtor shall be required to attend out of the county in which he resides", accordingly, an examination of a Judgment Debtor may be conducted in accordance with ARS §12-407, et seq.

Writs. A Writ is the instrument which conveys the authority of the court to exercise its jurisdiction over the assets of the Judgment Debtor.  Per ARS §12-1558(A): All property, real and personal, not exempt by law, and all property and rights of property seized and held under attachment or garnishment in an action, are liable to execution. Per ARS §12-1558(B): Shares and interests in a corporation, and debts and credits, choses in action, and all other property, or any interest therein, legal or equitable, not capable of manual delivery, may be levied upon and sold under execution.  In Arizona, there are two general types of writs issued for civil judgment enforcement:  the Writ of Garnishment, and the Writ of Execution.

Writ of Garnishment. If the employment (or self-employment) of the Judgment Debtor is known, generally, a Writ of Garnishment (Earnings) is served. This initially requires the Garnishee (employer) to withhold up to 25% of the Judgment Debtor's available earnings.  If a bank, brokerage or stream of income from sources other than employment is known, a Writ of Garnishment (Non-Earnings) is used. This enables the Judgment Creditor to capture available monies at the time of service.  In utilizing either (or both) types of Writ(s) of Garnishment, certain requirements and restrictions apply. 

A Writ of Garnishment must be followed up by obtaining a Judgment Against Garnishee to have any effect. Other states have varying remedies; Arizona is quite different.  Arizona's civil writ procedures have been most often compared to Texas, in that both require a Judgment Against Garnishee to be enforceable.   

A Writ of Execution allows the physical taking of property from the Judgment Debtor or other person(s) in possession. A Special Writ of Execution is used for the taking of certain, specific property (such as a specific automobile, collectible item, etc.). A General Writ of Execution is used for the taking of property which may be used to satisfy the judgment.

The Writ of Execution may only be served (executed) by the Constable (for Justice Court cases) or the Sheriff (for Superior Court cases). There are certain drawbacks to utilizing the Writ of Execution, including trespass laws. If, at the time of execution, the Constable or Deputy Sheriff is told by the Judgment Debtor or other person that they are trespassing, the levying officer generally departs without taking the property.

Turnover Order. This is an infrequent tool used in Arizona judgment enforcement (it is commonly used in other states, such as California). At the time of the Judgment Debtor Examination, property of the Judgment Debtor within the presence of the Court (Judge) may be ordered to be turned over to the Judgment Creditor. This is separate and apart from a Writ of Garnishment or Writ of Execution. ARS §12-1634(B) reads, "The court may order any property of the judgment debtor not exempt from execution, in the hands of any person or due the judgment debtor, to be applied toward satisfaction of the judgment."

Third Party Examination. If a third party is known or suspected of harboring property of the Judgment Debtor, the Judgment Creditor may request that a subpoena be issued to compel the third party to attend and bear witness as to the whereabouts of such property, or to turn over such property.  ARS §12-1634 reads, "(A)Witnesses may be required to appear and testify before the court or referee upon any proceeding under this article as upon trial of an action. (B)The court may order any property of the judgment debtor not exempt from execution, in the hands of any person or due the judgment debtor, to be applied toward satisfaction of the judgment."

Serving the legal process.  Under Arizona statute and rules of court, only a Process Server, or the Constable or Sheriff may serve the types of legal process (documents) discussed here.

We hope the forgoing helps you in plotting a direction you wish to proceed. If you would like your legal documents prepared, give RapidRPS a call at (877) 472-7431.  RapidRPS is an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer.  See our website at for more.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only. Nothing in this communication should be considered legal advice. The reader should do his/her own research to verify the accuracy and applicability of the information presented.  At RapidRPS, we not only serve legal process, but also prepare legal documents for enforcement of your judgment and other purposes. Neither RapidRPS nor any of our employees, assigns or agents are attorneys. We do not render legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult your own counsel.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Serving Multiple Parties in Arizona

Serving Multiple Parties in Arizona endeavors to service the needs of our clients utilizing the very best means possible, so that our services do not later become issues of "excusable neglect" or be considered "misrepresentation or other misconduct of an adverse party"[1].  As Process Servers, is an extension of our clients' interests in securing proper service of process.

Occasionally, a difference of opinion will arise in serving multiple parties.  Our policy is that when there are two or more parties named on the summons and complaint, an attempt is made to secure service on each party named as per the assignment[2].  Each party is issued their own set of legal process, and in the service thereof, each is afforded their individual due process[3].  A Proof of Service, or Declaration of Due Diligence is rendered for each individual party to be served. 

The dispute usually arises when the "old way" of doing things crops up with a new client.  In many instances, counsel will name multiple parties (usually individuals involved in a collection or personal injury matter) on a single summons.  Certain process servers (not RapidRPS) have served only one copy of the summons and complaint to all persons at a residential address and rendered a Proof of Service stating that all persons were served, personally or by substitute service. 

Our policies and procedures, based on law and experience is that service of one party with one (single) copy of the summons and complaint for that party and any other(s),  does not necessarily mean that the co-defendant(s) has(have) been served.  In consideration of the language set forth in ARCP Rule 4(a) and 4.1(d), serving a single copy of the summons and complaint for multiple persons would not satisfy the "…due process standards of being the best means of notice practicable under the circumstances and reasonably calculated to apprise interested parties of the institution and/or pendency of the proceedings".  Each party to serve is afforded a separate copy of the summons and complaint.

When a substitute service is made by RapidRPS, regardless of whether or not it is statutorily required, RapidRPS will mail a copy of the legal process served at that time by first class mail to the defendant.  This step, while not required under the ARCP is designed to best service our clients' needs in providing an additional method of delivery of the documents served, to help circumvent any motion to vacate the judgment due to an alleged lack of personal or constructive notice.  It also provides an additional measure to secure against a claim of error or omission.

As to the fees charged by, each party to serve is charged for.  This is a common practice in the attorney service profession, however, each agency dictates their charges according to their own policies and procedures.  Some will not overtly charge for a second party to serve, however will include "garbage fees" (time, mileage, return trips, notary preparation, postal verification, etc.) as an additional profit center.  At RapidRPS, we occasionally have the opportunity to review invoices from other agencies, and find that many will include a second defendant charge, plus time, mileage, return trips, notary preparation, skiptracing, postal verification, and the like.  In one instance, a well known, large attorney service firm charged a client over $800 for what in the end was a non-service.  The client then hired and the defendant was successfully served for a flat fee of $89 in a matter of three days.

While does not necessarily compete on price, we compete on prompt, professional service versus the servers who conduct themselves questionably, in our opinion.  It is not just lip service to claim to have the knowledge, professionalism and diligence to stake our reputation that every paper we serve is done right, every time.  We actively seek to live up to that commitment. 

At, we give all of our clients' matters the expediency and attention deserved, taking them very seriously and responding accordingly.  After all, our professional services support your needs, and are a direct reflection on you with your client.

[1] ARCP Rule 60(c).
[2] Per the terms and conditions on our website:, see Paragraph 7.
[3] Per ARCP Rule 4(a), "…A summons, or a copy of the summons if addressed to multiple persons, shall be issued for each person to be served" and ARCP Rule 4.1(d), "… shall be effected by delivering a copy of the summons and of the pleading to that individual personally or by leaving copies thereof…".

Monday, February 21, 2011

Proofs of Service -- vs. The Other Guys

by staff

As part of an ongoing series, presents several subjects of interest to our clients and other professionals.  Remember, we don't render legal advice; if you need legal advice, please consult your own counsel.

If I give you the papers in a sealed envelope, can you serve them?  The quick answer is "No"; however, let us explain why:  When a sealed envelope is given to someone, what are they seeing?  They are seeing an enclosure covering what's inside.  They don't see any documents inside the envelope.  However, when your legal documents served are in plain sight, nobody can deny that they are "Legal Process" -- that term coined some time ago to describe legal papers being served.

Process Servers serve "Legal Process"; the postal carrier and Fedex deliver sealed envelopes.  The Legal Process documents we serve are plainly visible, giving notice to the person served that they are served with important court documents, rather than just sheets of paper in an envelope.

I've seen other process servers list all the defendants on the same proof of service.  Why do you submit one proof of service for each party served?  First, because it's the professional thing to do -- we don't like sloppy.  At, we like to give a professional finished product.  Our Proof of Service is the written record of our efforts.  Although we may serve multiple defendants at the same time, each service is individual, has an individual fee associated with it, and is due its own documentation.  Further, each matter against a defendant or other adverse party served may be bifurcated (separated) and examined in its own right; the Proof of Service should stand as to the party served, not the group of parties served.

Why do you list all of the documents on the Proof of Service?  Keeping an accurate record of what documents we serve makes different from the other guys.  Often, we'll receive legal process with instructions to serve the "Garnishment Package" or "Summons & Complaint, etc." without detailing the title of each document to serve.  While we understand that documents prepared in bulk by clerical staff are sometimes bundled together, the documents we need to let the court know we served are detailed not only for the benefit of our clients, but for our protection, as well.  After acceptance of your papers, we will confirm with you the documents to serve.

Do you have to notarize each proof of service?  ARCP Rule 80(i) indicates that a document signed under penalty of perjury does not have to necessarily be sworn (a notarized affidavit).  A process server, who is an Officer of the Court, signs his/her documents under penalty of perjury.  Here's the Rule:
Rule 80(i). Unsworn Declarations Under Penalty of Perjury
Wherever, under any of these rules, or under any rule, regulation, order, or requirement made pursuant to these rules, any matter is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the sworn written declaration, verification, certificate, statement, oath, or affidavit of the person making the same (other than a deposition, or an oath of office, or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public), such matter may, with like force and effect, be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the unsworn written declaration, certificate, verification, or statement, subscribed by such person as true under penalty of perjury, and dated, in substantially the following form:
"I declare (or certify, verify or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Foreign Deposition Subpoenas (Updated 2015)

Foreign Deposition Subpoenas (Updated 2015)
Where the underlying action or proceeding is located outside of Arizona and the testimony of a witness or document production is needed, can assist with securing a subpoena and copying documents. is a Legal Document Preparer, authorized by the Arizona Supreme Court.  The Clerk of the Superior Court of Arizona issues Foreign Deposition and Document Production subpoenas.  To have a Foreign Deposition Subpoena issued, the following are required:

1.       The subpoena issued in your state.  It should also have any other pleadings required by the laws of your state (i.e.: Notice of Deposition, Commission by your court, etc.).  If you are requesting records, or copies of documents and things, we will also need a list of them that are to be copied and remitted to you. 

2.       Fees.  The fee for the Arizona Superior Court to issue a subpoena is currently $27.  For depositions, Arizona statute (ARS § 12-303) currently states that a witness shall be paid $12 per day for each day’s attendance, and $.20 per mile, one way only. 

3.       The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all counsel of record in the proceeding, as well as any party not represented by counsel.  Each must be served with a copy of the subpoena issued by the court.

4.       The method for recording the testimony of a deposition must be stated (i.e.: stenographer, video, etc.).

5.       If the subpoena for production of documents and things includes electronically stored information, the subpoena should specify the form it is to be produced. offers document scanning and reproduction services to our clients.

Service of a subpoena:  A subpoena may be served anywhere within Arizona.  A copy of the subpoena shall be served on every other party [ARCP Rule 5(c)].

Time frame:  A subpoena for personal appearance may be served at a reasonable time before the scheduled deposition.  A person served with a subpoena may file an objection to appearance or production of documents and things.   

Commanding appearance:  A subpoena commanding a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to attend and give testimony at a hearing or deposition may not require the subpoenaed person to travel to a place other than:  (i) the county in which the person resides or transacts business in person; (ii) the county in which the person is served with a subpoena, or within forty miles from the place of service; or (iii) such other convenient place fixed by a court order. can file, obtain and serve your subpoena for you.  
Call us at (877) 472-7431 for details.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Keeping Data Secure: How Your Process Server Can Help

by staff

Many law firms, attorneys and business executives are concerned about keeping their data secure.  Fortunately, most large firms have some dedicated information technology departments whose personnel have composed one or more plans for data security and recovery.  Smaller firms and sole proprietors should, as well.  

Whether your data is stored in your file cabinets, desk drawers, computer, and cell phone, each is a potential target for not only identity thieves, but hackers and corporate espionage provocateurs.  Unscrupulous opponents may attempt to gain access to information in order to secure a victory.  Or it may be any number of persons or organizations seeking to advance their own interests.  In any event, data security should be approached with the axiom of “Prepare for the worst; Hope for the best”. 

While competitive intelligence is essentially a legal form of gathering information about a competitor (from observations, interviews, public records and other sources), the use of corporate espionage and computer hacking are definitely not.  As part of an ongoing series, we will discuss some basic issues with keeping your data secure and preventing its loss or manipulation.

The Plan.  When it comes to protecting sensitive data, one should have an information technology (IT) secure data plan.  The plan should encapsulate not only the maintenance and security of electronic data, but address issues as to physical data, as well.  The plan should be designed to protect against the most common sources of data breaches, including outside interests and careless employees.  Many data security breaches may not necessarily be directly related to compromising electronic data through penetration (hacking), but the failure of employees to follow certain office protocols relating to securing visible (printed) information from prying eyes, or from data leaving the premises in an unsecured manner.  The Plan should cover these foreseeable events.

Unintended Consequences.  When an employee removes data, such as a client file from the office without adhering to established internal security protocols, the firm runs the risk of not only exposing that client’s information to third parties, but compromising the overall reputation of the firm as a trustworthy entity.  We emphasize this in light that clients utilizing attorneys and their contractors often times do so on reputation, alone.

Unsecured Data Compromise.  An example of data leaving the office in an unsecured manner would be moving data to a USB flash drive or CD-ROM without the data having previously been encrypted, or otherwise removing a laptop from the firm premises without the necessary encryption measures installed.  The level of encryption may vary from firm to firm, and restrictions as to levels of control over access to information.  However, in all instances, whether the data is merely password protected or encrypted to a level of sophistication, the management of the data integrity should be first and foremost in any firm’s IT plan. Many times, the data that the employee has possession of is not the property of the employee, or the firm, but the property of the client, or privileged communications between the firm and the client.  Consequently, any breach of that data is a breach of the trust between the attorney and the client.

Physical Document Compromise.  Another example of confidential data exposure may be the physical document compromise which can come from a non-employee third party visitor having the ability to view documents within a working environment.  Most of such incidents occur when the subject documents are left in plain sight; however in other instances, the documents may be present for casual perusal while the employee tasked with controlling the document is out of their office.  To help eliminate this opportunity, the firm may establish a policy of not leaving sensitive or confidential documents in plain sight for the casual observer, as well as establishing a visitation policy of not allowing visitors access to an inner office working area without an escort and chaperone.

The “Rings of Trust”.  Document control may be further enhanced by the use of physical or virtual boundaries, or “rings of trust”: the further from the center (or highly restrictive domain) a document is allowed, the less sensitive it may be.  Establishing access to documents within the office environment may be done by permissive access, with the employees having access on a “need to know” basis.

Sanitization of the Working Office.  When allowing a client or visitor into an inner office working area, where access control is increased, the “sanitization” of an office may be advisable.  This may be as simple as turning over the top document on exposed files so the blank back side of the paper is only visible, or otherwise covering working documents with other papers or even a tarp or sheet (depending on the size).  Of course, unneeded paper documents and folders should be filed away in a locked file cabinet at all times.  The same attention in the reception area to removing from public sight any documents should also be emphasized.

Electronic Retention and Document Destruction.  The protection of client data from physical removal may likewise be accomplished through the establishment, utilization and enforcement of firm policies and procedures wherein paper files and documents which are not public record (including credit reports and other communications) are committed to electronic retention, catalogued, then shredded.  As performs skip tracing to locate and serve evasive or parties where our clients do not have confirmed addresses, our firm utilizes a cross-cut shredder to destroy confidential information on-site at the appropriate work stations after electronic retention.  Other confidential or proprietary documents are likewise electronically retained and shredded after their physical necessity is no longer required.
Most of the clients of transmit their documents for service to our office via email attachment or via fax.  As so much of our information, assignments and reports are delivered by electronic means, the initial need for paper documents is minimal.  We print the documents vital for service of process, and electronically retain the balance. 

Documents which must be committed to paper (such as legal process to serve), are printed in the amount of copies necessary, served or otherwise delivered to the intended recipient, and the appropriate documentation made on the workflow management documents.  If documents are non-served, they are generally returned to our office for destruction. 

Where paper documents are utilized for workflow management (such as Process Server field reports, Proofs of Service, Affidavits and the like), after quality control, such documents are electronically retained (scanned), catalogued, and the originals remitted to our clients.  While many attorney services retain the work order and process server notes, submits the originals to the client for their use and retention.  The scanned documents are also sent to our clients via an email with the report captioned for immediate electronic viewing. 

The Efficiency of the “Paperless” Office.  While we have found that a “paperless” environment eliminates clutter, as well as promotes a more efficient workflow, cutting down on time expended to paper management, we have also found it to be a much more secure environment for confidential documents, as well.  Many firms utilize outside shredding services which remove documents and papers from the office waste receptacles and perform commercial shredding on or off-site.  Whether the paper flow is large or small, the necessities of time and other resources drive whether the firm utilizes an outside contractor for shredding its documents or performs it in-house.

On-Site and Off-site Backup.  The subject of backing up data is not to be ignored or made insignificant.  As may be said in computer science classes, the way to preserve one’s data is backup…backup…backup.  The firm may have an on-site backup system, which may be as simple as an external drive for a single user, or a NAS (network attached storage) drive, or to the complexity of a server farm.  In all instances the data management plan should include an off-site backup protocol.  Examples of such consumer and commercially available off-site backup services are Mozy and Carbonite. 

Off-site physical document storage may be just as important as off-site data backup.  The various requirements imposed by private contract, or statute and government regulatory imposition may require a firm or business to retain physical inventory of documents, such as credit applications, mortgages, notes, medical records, evidence, or other paper records.  Additionally, as the physical documents may be the property of the client, the law firm may be obligated to return the documents to the client in good order after representation is terminated.  By utilizing off-site document storage service providers, a business may put its resources to good use in the physical retention of documents.

Summary.  The use of encrypted emails, one time use keys, and other electronic means to protect privacy may be vital in the world of personal and legal information interchange, and businesses must be compliant with the requirements of HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, and other statutes.  While the advanced securitization methods to deter or otherwise prevent data leakage are mandatory in some circles, let us not forget the basics of data security, including restricting access to information by the use of tools such as locking doors, restricting visitor access, password protected logins (including screen savers, as well as boot up’s), utilizing a cross-cut paper shredder, and other means to secure one’s data.  

Our goal is not to “lock down” our office so that necessary and vital information is not available to our associates and employees, but to secure our client’s information from unauthorized disclosure and disseminate that information on a need to know basis, preserving the integrity of the data, physical or virtual.