Agency Subpoenas Seek Process Servers' GPS Records
New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs has served more than 300 subpoenas on independent process servers seeking their global positioning system records, leading some process servers to complain that they're being unfairly targeted.
Katyusca Abreu, a spokeswoman for the department, confirmed that the subpoenas were issued in December as part of an ongoing investigation into process service in New York. The subpoenas had a return date of Jan. 13. She did not say what the city's next step would be in the investigation, only that the subpoenas were issued "to ensure they're keeping legally mandated GPS records to prevent sewer service and make sure that process servers are serving papers when and where they say they are."
"Sewer service" refers to failure to serve papers.
Lawyers in New York usually hire process servers through agencies, which in turn use independent contractors.
The consumer affairs department has been investigating the process server industry in 2008, concluding after public hearings that the largely self-regulated industry was not ensuring adequate service in many cases. It found that so-called sewer service was common, and that process servers were not keeping adequate records.
In response to those findings, the New York City Council passed Local Law 7 in 2010, requiring process servers to keep detailed records of where they serve papers and to use GPS tracking to confirm they appeared where they said they appeared. The GPS records are held by third-party companies.
Since that law was passed, the number of registered process servers in New York has been cut in half, from over 2,000 to just over 1,000.
Larry Yellon, president of the New York State Professional Process Servers Association, said that the new regulations are being enforced overzealously, effectively driving process servers out of business for technicalities.
For example, he said, a process server might be hit with heavy fines for omitting a ZIP code, or getting an address slightly wrong.
"Some [violations] might have been more serious than others, but some were frivolous, administrative, nothing drastic," he said. "They have repetitive fines. If a zip code is missing a dozen times, they fine them a dozen times."