The mass proliferation of cell phones and other mobile technology has led to a considerable increase in video surveillance in the United States. Some would say this is highly valuable in those situations when your word is not believed or there is another party bearing false witness against your sworn statements. Others would say they should have their privacy respected in all cases and not be recorded without consent.
In the case of process servers, things are a bit different. Because this job role often includes situations involving legal documentation, it may be wise to introduce video surveillance into the regular duties of a typical day.
There was a recent Texas case involving Stephen Hartman, who was attempting to serve a judge that had been accused of disrupting court proceedings and arrested. During what should have been a regular interaction, the process server was accused by the judge of overstepping their boundaries and acting belligerent. Even worse, there were testimonies of 5 other attorneys and two deputy sheriffs, all giving different inaccurate recounting of the situation.
No one realized that Mr. Hartman had a pen camera on his person at the time of the serving and recorded the entire event. When that recording was permitted in a court, all the charges were dropped, and his license to practice was reinstated.
This means that without that video evidence, this process server would, at the very least, face a loss of a career and probably have to deal with criminal charges as well. So, this is a pretty reasonable argument for having video/audio recording active while performing process serving duties.
The Rule of Consent
The thing to keep in mind is that not every state allows for recording. Careful consideration always needs to be paid to the local laws governing recordings before they are used in regular practice.
For example, even if a state allows video recording, it may not allow audio. Or, if they do, it may be a one-party or two-party situation where you may need consent. There is also the question of privacy in general. No one is allowed to record another person when trespassing or when breaking what is known as a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. This would be in situations like using the restroom or trying on clothing in a retail store dressing room.
Always ask the process serving company you are hiring if they do record while performing their duties. Most will follow guidelines outlined by the local court system for verification. That usually involves photographic evidence of visiting a home, business, or place of employment to document they are doing their due diligence in an attempt to serve papers.
When to Record Process Serving
There are three primary reasons to record the attempt to serve papers that include:
- Recording all services and uploading them to a cloud storage system with a date and time stamp for later use in a court of law.
- Only record services as they are performed and keeping a record of those with a problem or complex situation.
- Recording situations that an experienced process server anticipates may be a problem in the long run.
Odds are the debate around privacy and recording is not going to go away anytime soon, so each process server will have to do what they can to protect themselves.
In our case at Houston Process Servers, we provide photographic proof of each attempt. This includes the date, time, and GPS coordinates in a verifiable stamp. This is completed through a specially designed process server app that allows these images to be 100% proof in a court of law. This kind of dedication to service and integration of modern technological solutions boosts our reputation for exceptional service with our clients.
The Process Servers of Tomorrow
Video recording is going to only get easier in the future. More mobile devices and wearable technology will make this more straightforward and cheaper to perform. You should expect to find it across many industries as days go by.
A process server is just like any other legal professional doing their best to ensure the safe running of our legal system. Having a video surveillance option ensures the job is done professionally and reliably every time.
That is why it is imperative to hire a professional firm like Houston Process Servers. We have spent years building our reputation for exceptional service with entities like law enforcement, courts, legal teams, and businesses around the greater Houston, Texas area. That allows us to be trusted and upstanding in the eyes of the courts. They know the best way for us to maintain our business is to stick to the guidelines and ethics of our profession so all of our clients can get the reliable and trustworthy service we guarantee. Fill out our intake form today and let our expert team help you with any process services you may need.