New Michigan law exempts process servers from trespassing laws

Jan 9, 2014

Credit Morguefile

In Michigan, people can no longer use trespassing laws to avoid being served court papers at their doors.

At the end of 2013, a new law took effect to exempt process servers from trespassing laws.

State Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) introduced the legislation. He said the law aims to increase safety for process servers.

Jones said people sometimes respond to the server with threats of violence, including brandishing firearms. He said that if the process server called the police,  little could be done because the individual being served would claim trespass by "pointing at a little sign and saying, 'it says no trespassing. Therefore I have the right to do this.' Well, when it comes to civil process, now you don't have the right to do it."

Jones explained that the new law makes it clear that process servers are not trespassers when performing their duty of trying to serve documents. "They have the right to go from the street to the front door and back to the street, and they are not violating any trespassing law. So if somebody acts in a violent manner, they will be violating the law," he said.

Jones said the new law does not require people being served court documents to open their door. But he said if someone cannot be served after reasonable efforts, the judge will authorize other methods. These might include certified mail or taping documents to the door.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom