HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON MILITARY BASES

This article will provide guidance on how to serve legal papers in military bases. It is common for process servers throughout the United States to serve on military members’ vital legal pap. This includes enlisted individuals in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. A professional process server like those at Undisputed Legal will find out exactly where the military member is currently stationed, whether on-post, deployed, or off-post. The execution of service in a military capacity relies on this information, making it crucial to the success of your case. Click here to watch our introduction video.

Determining whether courts have jurisdiction over a person is crucial to establishing a domicile. Regulations and statutes must be fulfilled before a court may establish personal jurisdiction, which makes service on a military member more difficult.  Typically, service is done when the process server ascertains the defendant’s residence and then shows up at that home with the necessary paperwork to serve the process. However, serving military personnel might be more challenging depending on their location. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

The rules regarding the delivery of legal documents differ from one state to another. Additionally, the individual’s place of residence is used to determine jurisdiction for issuing subpoenas or summonses to members of the armed forces. The typical citizen’s domicile is their permanent residence. Nevertheless, since service personnel are often on the move, the state of recruitment serves as their domicile. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

How to Locate the Member of the Military

Knowing whether a service member lives on-post or off-post to serve them correctly is important. Serving papers to someone who resides off-post is simple. As with civilians, the process server will personally serve the legal documents upon them. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

Complexity arises when serving process on an active-duty military member since an estimated thirty percent of them reside on a military post. Some stringent regulations and processes must be followed to get entry, except for family members, veterans, and installation employees.

Consequently, process servers must coordinate their efforts with the Judge Advocate General and the local military police. After reviewing the access request, the Judge Advocate General determines whether the process server can be installed. If clients require papers to be served on military members, they must inform their process server in advance whether they will be required to serve a military post. This is because the procedure may take up to two weeks.

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 U.S.C. App., a service member’s legal domicile is defined as the state where the service member enlisted.  A good process server has to be familiar with the proper protocols for each U.S. military installation. Our Undisputed Legal process servers consider the military branch and personal circumstances for service. We may follow further rules (e.g., state or federal) based on the papers to be served..

Who Has Jurisdiction OVER Military Service?

Unless the lawsuit is from the same state as the document served, the law does not compel the military facility to grant service if it is under concurrent (both federal and state) jurisdiction rather than just federal. A case may be further complicated because this regulation, based on Army Regulation 27-40, may make it simpler for a service member to avoid service. Click here for information on How To Identify A Good Process Service Agency.

No matter how much access a process server has to a military base, they cannot barge into the installation. To avoid this, the authorities will offer the service member the opportunity to meet with the process server at a mutually agreed upon time and location. Regular field training exercises take place away from the usual duty location for active-duty military personnel. The process server must adapt to the specific needs of the base where the person is temporarily stationed to fulfill the extended exercises and ensure proper service while they are away from their usual duty station.

Our Undisputed Legal process servers are well-informed about the rules and regulations for the military and the US Code of Federal Regulations. As a result of operational security considerations, a service member’s loved ones may need to be made aware of their precise location, making it impossible to find and serve them. Alternatively, the court can wait to take any action until the person is back from deployment. Consequently, a process server who can contemplate alternative service for an on-base military member is important. 

What if the Military Member is Off-Post?

Suppose a service member is not residing at a military post or base. In that case, our process servers adhere to the regulations set forth by the client’s state and county and those set forth by the recipient’s state and county to effectuate service. This applies to service members not currently deployed, active duty, or retired and living in civilian communities. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

As to the Army Regulation and the Code of Federal Regulations, Department of Army (DA) officials are not allowed to hinder or avoid legal proceedings when brought against the United States or themselves in their official roles. An individual may be authorized by Army authorities to appoint a substitute to accept the process if doing so will impede the execution of military obligations. 

So that you know, process servers are not allowed to attempt service on Army service members who have elected to seek legal counsel before accepting service. Regardless, it is a policy detail that Army officers are prohibited from avoiding or evading service. The process server can forward the papers to the commander for delivery to the service member if the individual willingly agrees to be served. After this, the document would be physically delivered by the commander. It seems this is contingent upon the member’s prior voluntary consent to accept service of process. Here, the commander’s role is limited to that of a facilitator rather than a process server.

Just to let you know, certain prerequisites must be fulfilled to access Army land. Regions of concurrent jurisdiction, locations where the federal government has a proprietary interest, and states that have reserved the authority to serve process should be analyzed before conducting service. Access may not be allowed if the Army post is inside an enclave subject to exclusive federal authority. 

What if a service personnel is deployed?

Dealing with military laws, codes, and U.S. law makes service on a deployed member a little more complicated. Following the rules and regulations of the host country is just as important as following the Code of Federal Regulations. Utilizing the Hague Service Convention becomes important to serve a military member in these circumstances.

The Service Members Civil Relief Act ensures that any court procedures are delayed until the service member returns from deployment. Alternative means of service, such as sub-serving the military member’s commander, certified mail, or service by the sheriff, may be available if personal service is impossible. If you cannot carry out personal service as scheduled, Undisputed Legal will verify with the relevant authorities the alternative manner permissible under the rules. Click here for information on How To Serve Documents To Inmates

Process Service at the Air Force

While Air Force restrictions are largely similar to Army regulations, certain exceptions exist. In some cases, however, Air Force officials may provide access to military stations for out-of-state duty. It has already been stated that commanding officers are not allowed to refuse, be obstructive, or prevent. They are not, however, obligated to complete the service. The policy of the Air Force permits process servers to operate inside regions of exclusive federal jurisdiction in cases when the service member refuses service before seeking legal counsel.  

The process server and the military member to be served will have to meet, with the facilitator being the commanding officer or the Department of Defence. Our Undisputed Legal process servers will contact the DOD or the Judge Advocate General (JAG) if you need to serve an Air Force service member. The Coast Guard and the Army use the same procedure when it comes to effectuating service of process, much as the Air Force. Again, service completion is not mandatory, but commanding officers are expected to make service members accessible for the same. 

While on post, no member of the United States Air Force may be legally compelled to accept service of process.  Only certain personnel with the appropriate credentials are allowed entry to military installations. That is why serving as an Air Force member requires extra safeguards by civilian process servers. Process servers must visit the Visitor Centre on Air Force bases to communicate with those residing or employed there. Military credentialed process servers are not exempt from this requirement. To verify the papers’ legitimacy, the visitor center staff contacts the legal office. To serve persons on base, a civilian process server must establish contact and arrange to contact them. Military personnel and government solicitors may only facilitate the voluntary acceptance of the process by civilian process servers about the Posse Comitatus Act. To try to serve the person concerned in the claim, a civilian process server may be escorted by a security forces member or the base legal office.

Active Duty process Service for the Navy and the Marine Corps

The procedure for serving process onto members of the Navy or Marine Corps is similar to the Code of Federal Regulations for personnel of the Army. To serve a service member, the commanding officer’s approval is required. Service members are explicitly permitted by regulation to decline service from courts outside their residence.

Service of process on the United States Navy and the Marine Corps personnel is governed by the Federal Regulations. Any member, civilian employee, dependant, or contractor living on or at a naval facility may be served by federal or state courts by commanding officers both at sea and on land, so long as the location falls under their commands.

The presence of the commanding officer or designated officer is also necessary for the effectuation of service. Service members typically engage an attorney for concerns about their private lives and a government official for matters about their official duties, as stated in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Therefore, to get instructions on how to serve a service member at a navy or marine facility, our process servers will contact the Department of Defence security like at an army base. By the Army’s regulations on process serving, commanding officers in the Navy or Marines are not obligated to serve as process servers or verify that service was made.

Discretion on the Military base

Strict military laws may make serving legal papers to military members somewhat complex. This becomes more apparent when the troops are stationed in a foreign nation.  Officers at sea and on land have the authority to allow members, civilian workers, dependents, or contractors living on or near a naval facility, as long as it falls within their jurisdiction, to be served with legal papers from federal or state courts. 

Suppose the delivery follows reasonable command regulations and does not disrupt good order and discipline. In that case, the command should usually grant a process server’s request to serve the process aboard an installation. Rarely, withholding service may be appropriate if the person sought is in a region subject exclusively to federal jurisdiction and the state still needs to reserve the authority to serve the process.

A suitable site (like the command legal office) should be chosen if service is allowed where the member or employee and the process server may meet discreetly. This will allow the server to avoid serving the process at the workplace. The private process server must use diplomacy and delicacy while serving papers on a military base. An unofficial individual may visit the chosen area. The server may need to be accompanied to their location to serve the process on a noncooperative individual. The process server may need the civilian’s departure from a classified location before accessing them. A private process server like Undisputed Legal must ensure they comply with the base rules. The discipline attached to a military base requires process service to adhere to the rules as strictly as possible. 

process SERVICE in a different state

The intended military recipient is not obligated to accept the process if it is to be served by an authority from a jurisdiction other than the one where the command is placed. It is thus unnecessary to physically bring the process server from the out-of-state jurisdiction to the individual mentioned in the process. Instead, our Undisputed Legal servers go to the specified command center. At the same time, someone contacts the listed individual to inform them of what’s happening and let them know they may accept or decline service. The process server must be informed if the listed party declines service. The papers should be returned to the sender if the service of process is rejected when attempted by mail from out of state. If you have any questions, please send them to the command council, the local naval legal service office, or the staff judge advocate.

The Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation) should be informed by phone or message if it is not feasible to notify by phone whenever a member or civilian employee of the Department of the Navy is given the process because of his official position. You will need a written report from the closest suitable command to confirm notification. So that you know, the specific facts that gave rise to the action must be included in the letter report.

 Upon receipt of any civil or criminal process or pleadings from a federal or state court, whether for acts taken while on official business or because of a traffic ticket, any member or civilian employee serving such process or pleadings must promptly transmit them to the commanding officer. After gathering all essential information, the CO must inform the JAG or AGL (Litigation), whichever is applicable, by phone or message if the latter is not feasible, that service has been made. It must promptly transmit the pleadings and procedure to the appropriate department. Additionally, as outlined in 28 CFR 50.15, federal employees have the right to request representation by attorneys from the Department of Justice in civil or criminal proceedings, whether at the federal level or otherwise. 

A member or civilian employee’s commanding officer may grant permissive instructions to attend a trial at no cost to the government if they are testifying on behalf of a nongovernmental party while performing official tasks. Such instances must also consider the requirements of 32 CFR part 725. Unless the individual is on authorized leave, they must pay any fees offered for testimony to the Department of the Navy, even though members or civilian workers are allowed to receive allowances and mileage. Following the guidelines in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, members and civilian workers may be paid to serve as witnesses where it would serve the best interests of the United States Government, such as in-state criminal trials. 

Everyone, including armed forces members, is subject to the standard procedures for delivering legal papers, notifying of claims and accusations, or informing of particular activities. Under state law, legal documents may be served on military members; however, the procedure may become more complex based on location. Involving a qualified and discreet private process service agency like Undisputed Legal can smooth out legal service in a military capacity. We ensure that your papers are served with the utmost care without jeopardizing your lawsuit on military installations. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.

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FOR ASSISTANCE IN SERVING LEGAL PAPERS

You can pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to help you out. We can handle all your process service needs.  For information on What is a Process Server, Click Here!

Please feel free to contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

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Sources

1. ‘Blog: Understanding the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.’ Corvias, www.corvias.com/news/understanding-military-housing-privatization-initiative. Accessed 30 Jan. 2024.

2. Base Commander Responses to Civilian Misconduct: Systems and Problems For the Staff Judge Advocate, Air Force Law Review, Volume 19, No. 2 (1977).

3. Sections 501 et seq., which enable military personnel to carry on the voting and income tax responsibilities associated with their original domicile notwithstanding their permanent post

4. Department of the Army A0027-40 DAJA

5. Army 32 C.F.R. § 516.10

6. Military leaders do not tend  to use their position to enforce civilian laws; this is made clear by the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal statute

7. 18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152

8. Navy and Marine Corps 32 C.F.R. § 720.20

9. No internal service shall be conducted without the commanding officer’s approval. ‘The purpose of this provision is to safeguard mission accomplishment and maintain good order and discipline without unduly hindering the court’s ability to do its job.’

10. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1442, 1442a, the member or civilian employee has the right to have civil or criminal proceedings transferred to federal court from state court. They also have rights under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act (28 U.S.C. 2679b) if applicable.

11. Joint Federal Travel Regulations, Volume 1, paragraph M6300, subsections 1-3 is e used to establish who is responsible for paying the member’s mileage and allowances.

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