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So with everything that’s been written in this series regarding service of process in the state of Florida one question has so far gone unanswered: Who can be certified to serve process?

While there are certainly laws pertaining to this (we’ll cover that in an upcoming installment in the series) process servers can also be certified in other ways as well, one of those ways being for the chief judge in each judicial circuit can set up a list of persons who are qualified to perform this task. Circuit chief judges are also empowered to modify that list as need be. Persons who are selected in this manner must be recertified and reappointed each year, and there is an associated administrative fee.

There are some limitations on persons who are authorized in the above manner: they can serve process only for nonenforceable civil cases within the circuit over which the approving chief judge has jurisdiction or a county court in the state. They are able to serve summons or subpoenas for criminal cases, but only in the circuit in which they were certified.

The above being said, that in no way implies that sheriffs or deputies are excluded from being able to serve process in these areas; the approval of a process server is in addition to the existing officers of county law enforcement, not in place of them.

48.27 Certified process servers.—

(1) The chief judge of each judicial circuit may establish an approved list of natural persons designated as certified process servers. The chief judge may periodically add to such list the names of those natural persons who have met the requirements for certification provided for in s. 48.29. Each person whose name has been added to the approved list is subject to annual recertification and reappointment by the chief judge of a judicial circuit. The chief judge shall prescribe appropriate forms for application for inclusion on the list of certified process servers. A reasonable fee for the processing of any such application must be charged.

(2)(a) The addition of a person’s name to the list authorizes him or her to serve initial nonenforceable civil process on a person found within the circuit where the process server is certified when a civil action has been filed against such person in the circuit court or in a county court in the state. Upon filing an action in circuit or county court, a person may select from the list for the circuit where the process is to be served one or more certified process servers to serve initial nonenforceable civil process.

(b) The addition of a person’s name to the list authorizes him or her to serve criminal witness subpoenas and criminal summonses on a person found within the circuit where the process server is certified. The state in any proceeding or investigation by a grand jury or any party in a criminal action, prosecution, or proceeding may select from the list for the circuit where the process is to be served one or more certified process servers to serve the subpoena or summons.

(3) Nothing herein shall be interpreted to exclude a sheriff or deputy or other person appointed by the sheriff pursuant to s. 48.021 from serving process or to exclude a person from appointment by individual motion and order to serve process in any civil action in accordance with Rule 1.070(b) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

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