HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE NEW JERSEY SECRETARY OF STATE

New Jersey

Undisputed Legal | New Jersey Process Service

The Secretary of State is a government official in 47 of the 50 US states and in Puerto Rico and other United States territories. This figure is named the Commonwealth Secretary in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The Secretary of State is the chief clerk of the state in jurisdictions that this position is active and is typically the main keeper of key governmental documents. There is no Secretary of State in the States of Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah; many functions a Secretary of State may usually exercise come under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant Governor. As the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State succeeds the Governor in most states, usually following the Lieutenant Governor immediately. In three states with no lieutenant governor (Arizona, Oregon, and Wyoming) as well as in Puerto Rico, in case of a government vacancy, the Secretary of State shall be in line first to be occupied. Secretaries of State, or those acting in that capacity, belong to the National Association of Secretaries of State.

 The most frequent, and perhaps the most essential, duty of the state secretary is to be the head office of the state election (although many states also have supervisors of elections, which are usually county elected officials). In thirty-eight States, the Secretary of State is ultimately responsible for the conduct of elections, including that of the implementation of qualifying criteria, supervision of financial regulations, and the introduction of procedures for election day. 

The Secretary of State is also responsible for the administration of the Uniform Commercial Code in the overwhelming majority of states, a statute that allows for the uniform application of commercial contracts and procedures across the United States including the registration of personal property links. In most states, in accordance with this obligation, the Secretary of State is responsible for the registration of state trademarks and for chartering enterprises (including typically partnerships and companies) wishing to operate inside their own country. Consequently, the Secretary of State keeps all records of commercial activity inside the State in most States. And in certain countries, the Secretary of State has broad regulatory authority over companies. 

WHAT DOES THE NEW JERSEY SECRETARY OF STATE DO 

The New Jersey Secretary of State supervises the State Department, an early state office. The Secretary is accountable for maintaining artistic, cultural, and historic initiatives within the State of New Jersey as well as projects related to volunteering and community service throughout the State. The Governor appoints the Secretary.

The Department agencies include the [A.] State Archives,  [B.] the Election Division, [C.] the Programs Division, [D.] the Business Action Centre, [E.] the Red Tape Review Commission, [F.] the Historical Commission, [G.] the Cultural Based Initiatives, [H.] the Centre for Hispanic Research and Development, [I.] the Office for Planning Advocacy and [J.]  the State Planning Commission. The Secretary of Higher Education, the Student Assistance Authority for Higher Education, the State Library, and the Sports and Expo Authority is a part of but are not in the Department.

The New Jersey Archives and Records Management Division is a storehouse for all crucial information, including marriage, divorce, and birth records, and also preserves a separate array of files for the recording of wills. The Secretary of State supervises the Tourism Division, which promotes New Jersey as a prime tourist destination and election division and sets forth all tourism and election policies.

The Secretary is New Jersey’s, Chief Electoral Officer. The electoral division was the New Jersey Attorney General until April 1, 2008. The Secretary of State is also the Chairman of the Council of State Canvasser, which certifies federal and state election results and public matters.

It is imperative here to note that in New Jersey, the Secretary of State is not responsible for the registration of companies. This is in stark contrast to areas like New York, where the Secretary of State is the sole point of contact for businesses and acts in the capacity of a registered agent. The Treasury Department of New Jersey is responsible for maintaining business records.  The Secretary of State serves in New Jersey a term of office in parallel with the governor’s tenure.

This Way is the current Secretary of State. The Secretary is the state’s chief election official, the head of the Department of State, and has authority over the Department of Archives and Records Management, which maintains the state’s vital records. Additionally, the secretary oversees artistic, cultural, and historical programs and sets tourism policies in the state.

HOW TO SERVE PROCESS ON THE NEW JERSEY SECRETARY OF STATE

Process Service upon the Secretary of State can be done by leaving the original and a copy of the summons. This would also require the furnishing of two individual copies of the complaint, with a fee of USD 20.00 in the hands of the Secretary of State. It must be noted that the Secretary of State can designate another individual to accept Process Service on their behalf, if [A.] notice of such service and a copy of the summons, with a copy of the complaint, are sent by registered mail to the defendant by the Secretary of State; and [B.] the return receipt from the defendant as well as the affidavit of compliance emanating from the Secretary of State that would provide major details of the service. This would include a statement of the date of mailing the Process Service and the receipt of the return card. These details must be appended to the original of the summons attached to the other copy of the complaint to fulfill adequate Process Service.

 Furthermore, the documents must be filed in the office of the clerk of the court wherein the action may be pending. It must be understood that notice of service should be furnished with a copy of the notice as well as the prerequisite copy of the summons and two copies of the complaint. These documents will then be sent by registered mail by the Secretary of State and forwarded to the sheriff or other process server in the jurisdiction in which the defendant resides. For the purposes of convenience, directions should be provided such that the sheriff or process server will be able to serve upon the defendant in accordance with that area’s Process Service guidelines. 

The return receipt of such sheriff or process server should be appended to or endorsed on the original summons and a copy of the complaint and returned to the Secretary of State. It is required to then file the documents in the office of the clerk of the court wherein the action may be pending in this State. An alternative would be to provide the notice of service as well as a copy of the summons and complaint on the defendant. This notice would have to be served personally by an official or an individual in their private capacity wherever the service should be levied. This would show the individual being served as well as depict the time and place of service, all indicated on the affidavit of service and couples with the original summons and copy of the complaint. This affidavit would be returned to the Secretary of State and filed by the clerk of the court. 

A registered agent of New Jersey is needed by law in all formal businesses in New Jersey. A registered agent gets all official documents from the State of New Jersey and also receives a company processing department in a legal proceeding.

SERVICE  OF PROCESS ON A BUSINESS ENTITY VIA THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY

A business entity, regardless of whether it is foreign or domestic, is required to register with a state official or agency to transact business in this State. Often, this entity is required to register an address or an agent in the State for the Process Service that may come from any action, which would then be directed to the business at the address or to the agent registered. However, an alternative for the registration of an agent for a business entity with the state would be designating the State official or agency to be capable of accepting Process Service for any action, which would be relevant if [A.] the business entity has failed to register or re-register as required by law; or [B.] the business entity has failed to maintain a registered address or a registered agent in this State for Process Service. The registered agent in New Jersey is an individual or business entity acting as the point of contact for the business for [A.] all communication with New Jersey, such as the New Jersey Annual Report and Good-standing Certificate and [B.] is given all business processing services in any legal action.

All formal New Jersey companies such as LLC, corporations, etc. are legally obliged to have a registered agent. Furthermore, the official upon whom substituted service has been done is required to notify the entity by letter to its registered office within two days. If the entity’s registered address cannot be found, this intimation must be forwarded to any officer of the entity that has been identified by the State official or agency.  Additionally, the letter must also include a copy of the process or other paper served to be enclosed with the letter. Process Service thus provided shall be as effective in any action as if the business entity had entered its general appearance in the action.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY TO ACCEPT SERVICE OF PROCESS.

Unlike most other states, New Jersey Corporate Records are managed by the Department of Treasury and not the Secretary of StateTo begin the entire service chain, the Process Server should first decide who the target receiver is.  This is because more than one million domestic and international companies, alliances, and unincorporated organizations have been documented with the Department of Treasury. In most circumstances, the name of the organization expected to be served is analogous to other organizations’ names. The process server, not the New Jersey  Department of Treasury, is liable for deciding the service user is intended to accept documents.  If a domestic or authorized foreign corporation has no such address on file, the secretary of state can mail a copy to the care of any director named in its certificate of incorporation at the director’s address stated. If the corporation is authorized but foreign, the copy’s mailing would be done to its office’s address within this state on file in the department. 

If this search has been completed, the process server will discover whether the corporation or LLC, etc. has been registered with the New Jersey Dept. of Treasury and will be able to provide a  printout of the ‘Status Report’. It is then imperative that service is to be attempted at whatever address the Dept. of Treasury has on file in the Status Report, regardless of the age or relevance of the address.  Only if this address has been proven to be irrelevant or obsolete can the New Jersey Department of Treasury accept the service. Thereinafter, it is necessary for the cheque as well as the relevant documents- being [A.] a copy of the Status Report, and [B.] an Affidavit of Attempted Service showing attempts at least at the address listed on the Status Report. 

The cheque must be payable to ‘Treasurer of State of New Jersey’ in the amount of USD 25.00 for corporations. This amount is USD 75.00 for LLCs. The requirement for the same means that all personal delivery that constitutes Process Service would have to include both the copy and the fee if it is levied on a domestic or authorized foreign entity. These stipulations are non-negotiable since the Department of Treasury is allowed to reject Process Service if the copies are tampered with, altered, or are not duplicate copies in the first place. 

During the pandemic, Process Service has had to adapt in order to be completed effectively as well as fulfill due process requirements. Consequently, Process Service via remote means like electronic mail or even regular registered mail service is preferred against the hitherto more 

For more information on serving legal papers, contact Undisputed Legal our New Jersey Process Service department at (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

Sources

1. Florida is one of the many states that have this to do, and for this reason, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris became a rarity nationwide during the Florida election report.

2. Apart from Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

3. Gribbins, J. Joseph (1971). Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey. Trenton, N. J. p. 217

4. “New Jersey State Council on the Arts APPROVES Over $35.6 Million in GRANTS, Establishes Capital Arts Program.” NewJerseyStage.com, 27 July 2021, www.newjerseystage.com/articles/2021/07/27/new-jersey-state-council-on-the-arts-approves-over-356-million-in-grants-establishes-capital-arts-program/. 

5. Or someone designated by him in his office, and such service shall be sufficient service upon the non-resident operator, pilot, or owner

6. In case the plaintiff provides for this type of service in addition to the fee of USD 20.00, it would be necessary to provide a deposit with the Secretary of State sufficient money to effectuate the same

7. Notice of such service and a copy of the summons and complaint may be served on the defendant in any other manner which the court wherein the case is pending shall deem sufficient and expediency

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