Annie Chen

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It is not enough that courts have the ability to exercise control over persons and property. The Supreme Court has held that at a minimum, the due process requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment includes notice of the proceedings] Thus before a State can legitimately exercise such power its jurisdiction must be perfected by effectuated service of process. Service of process is the formal presentation of instruments that initiate legal action against a person or property. It is the method by which a defendant is formally notified that an action against her is pending and marks the beginning of a defendant’s involvement. In most instances, service must be in person by delivery of the complaint and summons.The noted advantage is that personal service better guarantees actual notice of the pendency of a legal action.

Since the middle of the 20th century, service of process – and personal jurisdiction – have evolved to accommodate practical obstacles of personal service arising from the increased mobility of individuals and the rise of interstate commerce by permitting more indirect methods of service, substituted and constructive service. The Court announced the standard in Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co. that notice to the parties must be “reasonably calculated under all circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections.”With this standard, the Court authorized notice by publication and held that such a method satisfied due process when the relevant parties’ addresses were unknown and could not be discovered with due diligence.

Since Mullane, courts have not only authorized alternative methods of service but have held that such approaches satisfy due process where more traditional methods -- personal, published, and registered mail – are inadequate. Requirements for service of process have been relaxed concurrently with a trend towards increasing mobility.

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Service of Process

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