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Oklahoma Process Serving Requirements
Process servers are required to be licensed. Once licensed, a bond must be executed in the State of Oklahoma in the amount of $5,000. All applicants are also subject to a fee of $35 and be licensed to serve process in the county in which the license is issued. The other option for applicants could be a fee of $150 statewide licensing. The license states that process servers are officers of the court only for the service of process. No testing or education required. [Oklahoma Statutes Annotated §12-158.1]
§ 12-2004 Process
A. SUMMONS: ISSUANCE. Upon filing of the petition, the clerk shall forthwith issue a summons. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall issue against any defendants.
B. SUMMONS: FORM.
1. The summons shall be signed by the clerk, be under the seal of the court, contain the name of the court and the names of the parties, be directed to the defendant, state the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, otherwise, the plaintiff’s address, and the time within which these rules require the defendant to appear and defend, and shall notify the defendant that in case of failure to appear, judgment by default will be rendered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the petition.
2. A judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or exceed in amount that prayed for in either the demand for judgment or in cases not sounding in contract in a notice which has been given the party against whom default judgment is sought. Except as to a party against whom a judgment is entered by default, every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his or her pleadings.
C. BY WHOM SERVED: PERSON TO BE SERVED.
1. SERVICE BY PERSONAL DELIVERY.
(a) At the election of the plaintiff, process, other than a subpoena, shall be served by a sheriff or deputy sheriff, a person licensed to make service of process in civil cases, or a person specially appointed for that purpose. The court shall freely make special appointments to serve all process, other than a subpoena, under this paragraph.
(b) A summons to be served by the sheriff or deputy sheriff shall be delivered to the sheriff by the court clerk or an attorney of record for the plaintiff. When a summons, subpoena, or other process is to be served by the sheriff or deputy sheriff of another county, the court clerk shall mail it, together with his voucher for the fees collected for the service, to the sheriff of that county. The sheriff shall deposit the voucher in the Sheriff’s Service Fee Account created pursuant to Section 514.1 of Title 19 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The sheriff or deputy sheriff shall serve the process in the manner that other process issued out of the court of the sheriff’s own county is served. A summons to be served by a person licensed to make service of process in civil cases or by a person specially appointed for that purpose shall be delivered by an attorney of record for the plaintiff to such person.
(c) Service shall be made as follows:
(1) Upon an individual other than an infant who is less than fifteen (15) years of age or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition personally or by leaving copies thereof at the person’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person then residing therein who is fifteen (15) years of age or older or by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process;
(2) Upon an infant who is less than fifteen (15) years of age, by serving the summons and petition personally and upon either of the infant’s parents or guardian, or if they cannot be found, then upon the person having the care or control of the infant or with whom the infant lives; and upon an incompetent person by serving the summons and petition personally and upon the incompetent person’s guardian;
(3) Upon a domestic or foreign corporation or upon a partnership or other unincorporated association which is subject to suit under a common name, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to an officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process and, if the agent is one authorized by statute to receive service and the statute so requires, by also mailing a copy to the defendant;
(4) Upon the United States or an officer or agency thereof in the manner specified by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4;
(5) Upon a state, county, school district, public trust or municipal corporation or other governmental organization thereof subject to suit, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to the officer or individual designated by specific statute; however, if there is no statute, then upon the chief executive officer or a clerk, secretary, or other official whose duty it is to maintain the official records of the organization; and
(6) Upon an inmate incarcerated in an institution under the jurisdiction and control of the Department of Corrections, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to the warden or superintendent or the designee of the warden or superintendent of the institution where the inmate is housed. It shall be the duty of the receiving warden or superintendent or a designee to promptly deliver the summons and petition to the inmate named therein. The warden or superintendent or his designee shall reject service of process for any inmate who is not actually present in said institution.
D. SUMMONS AND PETITION. The summons and petition shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with such copies as are necessary. The failure to serve a copy of the petition with the summons is not a ground for dismissal for insufficiency of service of process, but on motion of the party served, the court may extend the time to answer or otherwise plead. If a summons and petition are served by personal delivery, the person serving the summons shall state on the copy that is left with the person served the date that service is made. This provision is not jurisdictional, but if the failure to comply with it prejudices the party served, the court, on motion of the party served, may extend the time to answer or otherwise plead.
E. SUMMONS: TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF EFFECTIVE SERVICE.
1. Service of the summons and petition may be made anywhere within this state in the manner provided by subsection C of this section.
2. When the exercise of jurisdiction is authorized by subsection F of this section, service of the summons and petition may be made outside this state:
(a) by personal delivery in the manner prescribed for service within this state,
(b) in the manner prescribed by the law of the place in which the service is made for service in that place in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction,
(c) in the manner prescribed by paragraph 2 of subsection C of this section,
(d) as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory,
(e) in the manner prescribed by paragraph 3 of subsection C of this section only when permitted by subparagraphs a and b of paragraph 3 of subsection C of this section, or
(f) as directed by the court.
3. Proof of service outside this state may be made in the manner prescribed by subsection G of this section, the order pursuant to which the service is made, or the law of the place in which the service is made for proof of service in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction.
4. Service outside this state may be made by an individual permitted to make service of process under the law of this state or under the law of the place in which the service is made or who is designated to make service by a court of this state.
5. When subsection C of this section requires that in order to effect service one or more designated individuals be served, service outside this state under this section must be made upon the designated individual or individuals.
6. (a) A court of this state may order service upon any person who is domiciled or can be found within this state of any document issued in connection with a proceeding in a tribunal outside this state. The order may be made upon application of any interested person or in response to a letter rogatory issued by a tribunal outside this state and shall direct the manner of service.
(b) Service in connection with a proceeding in a tribunal outside this state may be made within this state without an order of court.
(c) Service under this paragraph does not, of itself, require the recognition or enforcement of an order, judgment, or decree rendered outside this state.
F. ASSERTION OF JURISDICTION. A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis consistent with the Constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States.
1. The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof to the court promptly and in any event within the time during which the person served must respond to the process, but the failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.
2. When process has been served by a sheriff or deputy sheriff and return thereof is filed in the office of the court clerk, a copy of the return shall be sent by the court clerk to the plaintiff’s attorney within three (3) days after the return is filed. If service is made by a person other than a sheriff, deputy sheriff, or licensed process server, such person shall make affidavit thereof. The return shall set forth the name of the person served and the date, place, and method of service.
3. If service was by mail, the person mailing the summons and petition shall endorse on the copy of the summons or order of the court that is filed in the action the date and place of mailing and the date when service was receipted or service was rejected, and he shall attach to the copy of the summons or order a copy of the return receipt or returned envelope, if and when received by him, showing whether the mailing was accepted, refused, or otherwise returned. If the mailing was refused, the return shall also show the date and place of any subsequent mailing pursuant to paragraph 2 of subsection C of this section. When the summons and petition are mailed by the court clerk, the court clerk shall notify the plaintiff’s attorney within three (3) days after receipt of the returned card or envelope showing that the card or envelope has been received.
H. AMENDMENT. At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.
§ 12-2004.1 Subpoena
A. SUBPOENA; FORM; ISSUANCE.
1. Every subpoena shall:
(a) state the name of the court from which it is issued and the title of the action; and
(b) command each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony or to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, documents or tangible things in the possession, custody or control of that person, or to permit inspection of premises, at a time and place therein specified. A subpoena shall issue from the court where the action is pending, and it may be served at any place within the state. If the action is pending outside of Oklahoma, the district court for the county in which the deposition is to be taken shall issue the subpoena. Proof of service of a notice to take deposition constitutes a sufficient authorization for the issuance by the clerk of subpoenas for the persons named or described therein.
2. A witness shall be obligated upon service of a subpoena to attend a trial or hearing at any place within the state and to attend a deposition or produce or allow inspection of documents at a location that is authorized by subsection B of Section 3230 of this title.
3. The clerk shall issue a subpoena, or a subpoena for the production of documentary evidence, signed and sealed but otherwise in blank, to a party requesting it, who shall fill it in before service. As an officer of the court, an attorney authorized to practice law in Oklahoma may also issue and sign a subpoena on behalf of an Oklahoma state court.
B. 1. SERVICE. Service of a subpoena upon a person named therein shall be made by delivering or mailing a copy thereof to such person and, if the person’s attendance is demanded, by tendering to him the fees for one (1) day’s attendance and the mileage allowed by law. Service of a subpoena may be accomplished by any person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older. A copy of any subpoena that commands production of documents and things or inspection of premises before trial shall be served on each party in the manner prescribed by subsection B of Section 2005 of this title. If the subpoena commands production of documents and things or inspection of premises from a nonparty before trial but does not require attendance of a witness, the subpoena shall specify a date for the production or inspection that is at least seven (7) days after the date that the subpoena and copies of the subpoena are served on the witness and all parties, and the subpoena shall include the following language: “In order to allow objections to the production of documents and things to be filed, you should not produce them until the date specified in this subpoena, and if an objection is filed, until the court rules on the objection.”
2. Service of a subpoena by mail may be accomplished by mailing a copy thereof by certified mail with return receipt requested and delivery restricted to the person named in the subpoena. The person serving the subpoena shall make proof of service thereof to the court promptly and, in any event, before the witness is required to testify at the hearing or trial. If service is made by a person other than a sheriff or deputy sheriff, such person shall make affidavit thereof. If service is by mail, the person serving the subpoena shall show in his proof of service the date and place of mailing and attach a copy of the return receipt showing that the mailing was accepted. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service, but service of a subpoena by mail shall not be effective if the mailing was not accepted by the person named in the subpoena. Costs of service shall be allowed whether service is made by the sheriff, his deputy, or any other person. When the subpoena is issued on behalf of a state department, board, commission, or legislative committee, fees and mileage shall be paid to the witness at the conclusion of the testimony out of funds appropriated to the state department, board, commission, or legislative committee.
C. PROTECTION OF PERSONS SUBJECT TO SUBPOENAS.
1. A party or an attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to that subpoena. The court on behalf of which the subpoena was issued shall enforce this duty and impose upon the party or attorney, or both, in breach of this duty an appropriate sanction, which may include, but is not limited to, lost earnings and a reasonable attorney’s fee.
2. (a) A person commanded to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, papers, documents or tangible things, or inspection of premises need not appear in person at the place of production or inspection unless commanded to appear for deposition, hearing or trial.
(b) Subject to paragraph 2 of subsection D of this section, a person commanded to produce and permit inspection and copying or any party may, within fourteen (14) days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if such time is less than fourteen (14) days after service, serve written objection to inspection or copying of any or all of the designated materials or of the premises. If the objection is made by the witness, the witness shall serve the objection on all parties; if objection is made by a party, the party shall serve the objection on the witness and all other parties. If objection is made, the party serving the subpoena shall not be entitled to inspect and copy the materials or inspect the premises except pursuant to an order of the court by which the subpoena was issued. If objection has been made, the party serving the subpoena may, upon notice to the person commanded to produce, move at any time for an order to compel the production. Such an order to compel production shall protect any person who is not a party or an officer of a party from significant expense resulting from the inspection and copying commanded.
3. (a) On timely motion, the court by which a subpoena was issued shall quash or modify the subpoena if it:
(1) fails to allow reasonable time for compliance; or
(2) requires a person to travel to a place beyond the limits allowed under paragraph 2 of subsection A of this section; or
(3) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter and no exception or waiver applies; or
(4) subjects a person to undue burden; or
(5) requires production of books, papers, documents or tangible things that fall outside the scope of discovery permitted by Section 3226 of this title.
(b) If a subpoena:
(1) requires disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information; or
(2) requires disclosure of an unretained expert’s opinion or information not describing specific events or occurrences in dispute and resulting from the expert’s study made not at the request of any party, the court may, to protect a person subject to or affected by the subpoena, quash or modify the subpoena. However, if the party in whose behalf the subpoena is issued shows a substantial need for the testimony or material that cannot be otherwise met without undue hardship and assures that the person to whom the subpoena is addressed will be reasonably compensated, the court may order appearance or production only upon specified conditions.
D. DUTIES IN RESPONDING TO SUBPOENA.
1. A person responding to a subpoena to produce documents shall produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the demand.
2. When information subject to a subpoena is withheld on a claim that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation materials, the claim shall be made expressly and shall be supported by a description of the nature of the documents, communications, or things not produced that is sufficient to enable the demanding party to contest the claim.
E. CONTEMPT. Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon him may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.
Added by Laws 1985, c. 277, § 4, eff. Nov. 1, 1985. Amended by Laws 1993, c. 351, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Laws 1994, c. 343, § 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Laws 1996, c. 61, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 1996; Laws 1998, c. 374, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 1998; Laws 1999, c. 293, § 19, eff. Nov. 1, 1999.
§12-158.1. Licensure of Private Process Server – Revocation – List of Servers.
A. Service and return of process in civil cases may be by an authorized licensed private process server. The presiding judge of the judicial administrative district in which the county is located, or an associate district judge or district judge of the county as may be designated by the presiding judge, shall be authorized to issue a license to make service of process in civil cases to persons deemed qualified to do so.
B. Any person eighteen (18) years of age or older, of good moral character, and found ethically and mentally fit may obtain a license by filing an application therefor with the court clerk on a verified form to be prescribed by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
C. The applicant filing for a license shall:
1. Pay a license fee of Thirty-five Dollars ($35.00), and the regular docketing, posting, mailing, and filing fees prescribed by law. The license shall contain the name, address, a brief description of the licensee, and, at the discretion of the district court clerk, a recent photograph of the licensee. The license shall state that the licensee is an officer of the court only for the purpose of service of process and only within the county in which the license is issued. The license shall be carried by the licensee while on duty as a private process server. At the end of one (1) calendar year from the date of issuance of the initial license, the license shall be renewed for a period of one (1) year. The license shall be renewed each succeeding year. A fee of Five Dollars ($5.00) shall be charged for each license renewal. Upon an annual filing of a certified copy of a license issued pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph and payment of a filing fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00) to the court clerk of any county within this state, a licensed process server may serve process in that county for the district court having jurisdiction for that county; or
2. Pay a license fee of One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00), and the regular docketing, posting, mailing, and filing fees prescribed by law. The license shall contain the name, address, a brief description of the licensee, and at the discretion of the district court clerk, a recent photograph of the licensee. The license shall state that the licensee is an officer of the court only for the purpose of service of process. The authority of the licensee shall be statewide. The license shall be carried by the licensee while on duty as a private process server. At the end of one (1) calendar year from the date of issuance of the initial license, the license shall be renewed for a period of three (3) years. The license shall be renewed each succeeding three (3) years. A fee of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) per renewal shall be charged for each license renewal. All fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the court fund.
D. Upon the filing of an application for a license, the court clerk shall give five (5) days’ notice of hearing by causing the notice to be posted in the courthouse. A copy of the notice shall be mailed to the district attorney, the sheriff, and the chief of police or marshal in the county seat and shall contain the name of the applicant and the time and place the presiding judge or the associate district judge or district judge designated by the presiding judge will act upon the application.
E. If, at the time of consideration of the application or renewal, there are no protests and the applicant appears qualified, the application for the license shall be granted by the presiding judge or such associate district judge or district judge as is designated by the presiding judge and, upon executing bond running to the State of Oklahoma in the amount of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for faithful performance of his or her duties and filing the bond with the court clerk, the applicant shall be authorized and licensed to serve civil process statewide.
F. If any citizen of the county files a written protest setting forth objections to the licensing of the applicant, the district court clerk shall so advise the presiding judge or such associate district judge or district judge as is designated by the presiding judge, who shall set a later date for hearing of application and protest. The hearing shall be held within thirty (30) days and after notice to all persons known to be interested.
G. Proof of service of process shall be shown by affidavit as provided for by subsection G of Section 2004 of this title.
H. The district attorney of the county wherein a license authorized under this act has been issued may file a petition in the district court to revoke the license issued to any licensee, as authorized pursuant to the provisions of this section, alleging the violation by the licensee of any of the provisions of the law. After at least ten (10) days’ notice by certified mail to the licensee, the chief or presiding judge, sitting without jury, shall hear the petition and enter an order thereon. If the license is revoked, the licensee shall not be permitted to reapply for a license for a period of five (5) years from the date of revocation. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, any licensee whose license has been revoked one time shall pay the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) as a renewal fee. If a second revocation occurs, the chief or presiding judge shall not allow an applicant to renew the license.
I. The court clerk shall keep posted at all times in his office the list of licensed private process servers. Any person in need of a process server’s services may designate one from the names on the list, before presenting summons to the court clerk for issuance, without necessity for individual judicial appointment.
Added by Laws 1976, c. 74, § 1, emerg. eff. April 29, 1976. Amended by Laws 1978, c. 156, § 1, emerg. eff. Oct. 1, 1978; Laws 1979, c. 177, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1979; Laws 1984, c. 157, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1984; Laws 1985, c. 277, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1985; Laws 1987, c. 83, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1987; Laws 1998, c. 310, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 1998.
A private process server may serve process in any county in the State of Oklahoma but his authority is limited to serving process issued by the court of the county or counties that granted the process server his license. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 83-3 (April 6, 1983).
§12-158.2. Request of Server – Fees The process served by a licensee, authorized herein, shall be upon a request by the party or person desiring to obtain the services of said licensee. The fees to be paid for the services shall be agreed upon by them, and such fees shall not be collected by, nor handled through, the court clerk’s office.
Added by Laws 1976, c. 74, § 2, emerg. eff. April 29, 1976.