So while relieved, that the service process is done, we are greatly disappointed with the games that all of the defendants have played already. And hopefully they don’t try to call this the legal process and claim that it is from lack of legal training. Something as important as our children and our right to protect our children from interference from agencies such as these is an insult to all families in America.
The responses from the Attorney General and the judges is due on November 27, 2015. The A.G. will be responding for all of them.
Here is what we went through with each defendant so far with just the service process: (Hopefully this helps you prepare for yours.)
There are two ways that you can serve officials subject to a federal declaratory judgment suit. Depending on who they are is going to determine how you serve them. And depending on how cooperative they are might also determine how you serve them as well. We are listing two ways of service here — the most common.
- Waiver of Service: This is the least expensive way. Mail the complaint, two copies of the Waiver of Service, a postage paid return envelope, and a copy of the complaint pleadings that you filed. (Check the FRCP and the district court’s local rules for your district to find out if your rules are the same.) You should be able to get the Waiver of Service form online from your United States District Court website. Make sure you do certified return receipt. You will need that green card to mail in even if they send the Waiver into the court directly so that they have that proof on file that it was servcd properly. (If any of the parties do not accept the Waiver of Service then go to the next form of service if they are not required to accept the waiver. The rules tell you who is required to waive service and if they are not listed as being required to waive and refuse to do so then you have to serve a different way.)
- Summons of Service: This is more expensive because you have to hire a process server. There are several different ways the process server can deliver the notice of the suit to the defendant. They must deliver a copy of the summons and the complaint. And then the process server must return proof of service to the courthouse. Make sure you find out if the process server submits the proof of service to the courthouse or to you. We would suggest using a process server who will complete the entire process. This ensures that it is done correctly and that you don’t get your case thrown out on a basic procedural technicality. Since the process server will need to serve the defendents or their agents in person you must find out the addresses where personal service can take place. (Be careful when you call your judges’ courts the personnel there may not be very helpful with telling you the correct information about how you serve them. We know one person who was told that the judges don’t accept personal service at the courthouse by a process server and so they made the assumption that the judges needed to be served at their home. When you are serving them in their official capacity you would not be serving them at home as far as we know. It turns out in our case that proper service is the Attorney General.)
- In order to obtain a Summons of Service however you need to get each defendant’s official address for service and bring that to the federal courthouse when you file your complaint pleadings. You will ask the clerk to complete the summons for you. (Even though there is a form online the clerk still needs to put their official stamp and signature on it. So you can complete the one online but you still need to take it to them to sign and stamp.) You will need to provide the clerk with the addresses. Next you hire a process server and wait for them to complete the process. Check your rules to find out how many days you have to get them served. Just because you have a process server serving them doesn’t mean that they will watch these dates for you. You need to stay on top of the process server and not miss the date. In our case we had 90 days to get everyone served. And it doesn’t matter what type of service you are doing, the number of days you have stays the same.
There is one more step for you. Mail the green cards you received with the signatures on them proving that you mailed to each defendant properly and that they received it properly. This lets the district court know that you served them in a timely manner through the certified mail process. If you have to use a process server then these cards are not necessary.
Once all of the proof of services are filed with the clerk at the courthouse then the clock starts ticking for the defendants to respond. In our case, the defendants all have 60 days to respond from the date that each defendant sent the proof of service, not the date the court filed them into the computer.
So with Palmer v. Paxton the response for the A.G. and both judges is 60 days from the date they sent the service. The A.G. sent in all of the proofs of service for the A.G. himself and the two judges. Proof of service was sent by the A.G.’s office on September 28, 2015 and so this is where the clock for their response has started. Despite making calls to each of the judges court administrators, we were not informed of this. In fact, we were given the run around. One court administrator told us that they would look into it and that she didn’t know anything about it. The other told us that the judge had forwarded to their attorney and then refused to tell us who the attorney is.
Despite all of this, when I went online today into the PACER server (this is where all of the federal cases can be accessed) it finally showed receipt of the proof of service. Proof of service was entered by the court clerk on October 29, 2015 (we have no idea what took so long to get this entered when it says it was sent on September 28th).
All of the defendant’s responses are due now on November 27, 2015.
We expect that the initial response is going to be to point out any flaws that we have technically in our pleadings. We expect that the A.G. is going to try and argue that we don’t have a case and that they will want the case dismissed. We also expect that the A.G. is going to argue that the judges are not proper parties. We have addressed these issues in the complaint and we will respond to their response as appropriate. If there is something that needs to be corrected we will correct it. If it requires that we re-file, then we will re-file. So please do not panic when you see the A.G.’s response pleadings. We are expecting that they will do everything they can for the court not to hear this. In fact, the court itself can even try to kick this out without the other parties even responding. There is lots that can happen and we know this. So please don’t be shocked and think that it’s all over even if the first attempt is defeated.
Download a copy of the complaint pleadings from this page: Declaratory Judgment Donations