Benjamin N. Neece, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group
“Behind the Bar” is a multi-part blog series that will focus on specific aspects of the practice of law ranging from the Rules of Evidence, Rules of Civil Procedure, and other important legal practice technicalities in an effort to provide readers a better understanding of regularly overlooked and misunderstood concepts that lawyers are faced with on a day-to-day basis.
No two legal proceedings are alike, each has a different set of facts, parties, circumstances, and inevitably, different outcomes. One thing most share, however, is the seemingly endless number of steps and hoops to climb and jump through in reaching a conclusion. Why, you might ask, does the legal process take so long and be so complicated? A big part of the answer to this question involves behind the scenes activity known as the “Rules of Civil Procedure,” which comprehensively regulates every aspect of legal proceedings in extensive detail. Rule 4 is one of the most basic and fundamental rules that regulates Summons’, the process of service, and the consequences of failing to follow proper procedure.
By design, Rule 4 provides a detailed roadmap of how to effectuate service of process while providing a framework for providing notice of claims and proceedings to adverse parties. While purely a technical aspect of the legal process, the vitality of abiding by this rule cannot be understated as no court has jurisdiction to proceed with a legal matter until proper service occurs. Simply put, it does not matter how many other boxes are checked in the legal process, failure to meet the requirements under Rule 4 will keep your case on the sidelines until they are met. Continue reading →