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Can Pro Se Litigant Serve Legal Papers Upon Opposing Party to the Case?

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sandyclaus

Senior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Texas

Curious question came up, and I want to make sure whether or not my answer is correct.

It has been my understanding that a party CANNOT legally serve the opposing party in the case, and that service must be performed by a person over the age of 18 and who is not a party to the case. If a litigant is acting Pro Se, do the rules regarding service of process apply to for serving legal documents upon the opposing party? Wouldn't they need to have someone else do the service of process in order to avoid a potential conflict and protect the validity of the service?

I say even a Pro Se litigant can't serve their opponent. Someone else said they could, because the person is acting as their own attorney in the matter.

Who would be correct? Do you have a statute or reference to court rules that I can use for reference?
 
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Texas

Curious question came up, and I want to make sure whether or not my answer is correct.

It has been my understanding that a party CANNOT legally serve the opposing party in the case, and that service must be performed by a person over the age of 18 and who is not a party to the case. If a litigant is acting Pro Se, do the rules regarding service of process apply to for serving legal documents upon the opposing party? Wouldn't they need to have someone else do the service of process in order to avoid a potential conflict and protect the validity of the service?

I say even a Pro Se litigant can't serve their opponent. Someone else said they could, because the person is acting as their own attorney in the matter.

Who would be correct? Do you have a statute or reference to court rules that I can use for reference?
http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/rules/trcp/rcp_all.pdf

This link has 300+ pages outlining Texas Civil Procedures. I skimmed through it and could not find an exception for pre se litigants.

I briefly searched for case law and could not find anything applicable to your question. I'm sure it's out there somewhere though.

I think the lack of an exception specifically outlined in the civil procedures is more than enough to prove your point but I'm interested in other's feedback.
 

Ohiogal

Queen Bee
The rules of procedure apply to all -- including pro se litigants. They need to follow proper service rules as well.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Let's say you have an attorney who isn't paid by his client. He takes it to court...

Do you think that this attorney can serve the documents on the other party himself?

(Not meant to be snarky, just giving an example)
 

Ohiogal

Queen Bee
Let's say you have an attorney who isn't paid by his client. He takes it to court...

Do you think that this attorney can serve the documents on the other party himself?

(Not meant to be snarky, just giving an example)
No. He cannot personally serve. he can send it by certified mail (the mailman then serves) or hire a process server or have the COURT serve. But he cannot serve (by leaving at residence or handing it to the opposing party).
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
No. He cannot personally serve. he can send it by certified mail (the mailman then serves) or hire a process server or have the COURT serve. But he cannot serve (by leaving at residence or handing it to the opposing party).
Right
(I meant it as a thought exercise for Sandy ;) )
 

sandyclaus

Senior Member
Exactly as I thought.

I have some doofus trying to argue that being a pro se litigant somehow entitles them to serve the opposing party. For the same reasons as a non-pro se litigant can't do it, I see all kinds of bad that can happen there - not to mention the clear bias and potential for abuse.

I know that a licensed attorney who represents a litigant can serve the other party, but that's because of their station - their training, their position, and their ethical obligations as officer of the court to follow the law when it comes to service of process.

Not that I've NEVER heard of an attorney fudging service if they thought it was in the best interests of their client, but that's another discussion entirely...:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Thanks for the knowledgeable reinforcement of my thinking, guys. :D
 

justalayman

Senior Member
have this other person show you where the plaintiff is allowed to physically serve the opposing party. Remind them that as a pro-se plaintiff, they are not an attorney nor are they actually acting as an attorney, even though it is often stated in that manner. The are simply a plaintiff that is representing themselves. They are given many of the privileges of an attorney (access to people, places, and information) often restricted from the general public (at least without special permission) but regardless, they are not attorneys.
 

lawbird

Member
Ask opposing party for waiver of service. Remind them of their duty to save costs. Just suggesting. Might not be practical in your case but it might also work out.
 

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