Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Should Postal Service Cuts Prompt Changes to California Service Rules?

With today's announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will end Saturday First Class Mail and other letter delivery services this summer, there are certainly potential effects on the way service of process and service of pleadings are conducted in California.

This is a topic that BlawgSD first touched upon one year ago, inviting your comments about whether the California Legislature should review its permissible methods of service.

Now, I presume this change will include Registered or Certified Mail, long a mainstay in the service-of-process world in areas such as Landlord-Tenant Law. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 415.30, a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can serve summons via mail with acknowledgement of receipt. CCP 415.40 allows for out-of-state defendants to be served (without acknowledgment) but via Registered or Certified Mail.

The Code of Civil Procedure has long provided additional response time for the receiving party when pleadings, motions etc. are served by mail: 5 calendar days additional time added on to the base time-limits, 10 days outside of California, 20 days outside the U.S.A. (Code Civ. Proc. sections 1005, subd. (b) and 1013, subd. (a).)

If the new plan takes effect, it is conceivable that an item mailed on Thursday will not get to its destination until Tuesday. That's five calendar days, the limit. But that is everything goes smoothly.

Moreover, since we lawyers still write letters to each other, there will further be a disconnect between the immediacy of email and the now (slower) lag-time of written and mailed correspondence.

If you add this to the local cuts transforming the way the San Diego Superior Court conducts business, particularly in the Civil Division, this is just one little additional wrinkle to the way we practice law.

We welcome your comments on how this new change by the USPS will affect your practice and your thoughts on the USPS.

Should the Legislature amend its rules governing methods of service?

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