Senate approves Runestad bill to curb fraud, corruption in the judicial system

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation introduced by Sen. Jim Runestad to curb fraudulent process servers and restore integrity in the judicial system.

“In April, three attorneys from an Oakland County law firm were arrested for fraud, including allegedly failing to carry out required processes for notifying defendants in debt collection lawsuits,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The judicial system, above any other branch of government, has direct power over your life, and falsification of documents by corrupt process servers has the potential to utterly ruin the lives of vulnerable victims forever.”

Senate Bill 244 would require process servers to sign a declaration that the proof of service has been examined and that its contents are true under penalty of perjury. Currently, process servers can claim court immunity. This signed statement would replace the current notary requirement, which only verifies the identity of the process server and provides no real deterrent to falsification of service.

“I’ve been tracking cases of verified corruption by process servers since first introducing legislation in 2017. It’s hard to prove that you weren’t served unless you have a solid alibi for an unremarkable day, months or years earlier,” said Runestad. “In most cases, lazy process servers may falsely claim that they did their due diligence to make service. However, now we have proof that attorneys have also exploited this loophole for their own gain, to make sure defendants don’t show up in court. When a process server must sign under penalty that they made service legitimately, they will think twice before falsifying a report.”

SB 244 now moves to the state House for consideration.

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