What Kind of Papers Does a Process Server Serve?

After filing important legal papers, you are required to have process servers serve these documents as part of the legal process. These officers not only deliver papers for court cases but also perform various other tasks. A process server can send several other legal documents to people involved in a legal case, strictly adhering to the state, local, and federal laws of that jurisdiction.

In this article, we will be discussing the different kinds of papers that a process server can deliver. You will also get to understand how crucial the role of a process server is to delivering these legal documents. Let’s get right to it.

1. Writs

One of the most common legal papers process servers deliver is a writ. This is a court order that is put together in writing, commanding an individual or any person involved in the case to refrain from or perform an action.

Once a judgment is made in court, someone has to deliver a writ to enforce the recipient’s compliance. Writs are usually written by judges, the court, and officials who have legal, administrative, and judicial authority over the recipients involved.

Writs can come in five different forms: certiorari, habeas corpus, writ of quo-warranto,  prohibition, and mandamus. Now, here are the functions of these types of writs.

  • Certiorari

The Writ of Certiorari is a court order written by a superior court to an inferior court, demanding that the records of a case be reviewed or re-examined. It is not very common and is only used when there has been a big problem in the system.

  • Habeas Corpus

The Habeas Corpus Writ is written to command an authority holding another in custody to present the person in court and provide valid reasons why that person has been detained or imprisoned. With this writ, a prisoner or detainee’s confinement will be assessed to confirm if their sentence is legal.

  • Writ of Quo-Warranto

This writ is a court order written to challenge or revoke a person’s right to hold a corporate or public office. The Writ of Quo-warranto is used as a civil remedy to inquire the lawfulness of a person’s claim to hold public positions.

  • Prohibition

The Writ of Prohibition is a written court order issued to an inferior court by a superior court to demand that it cease exercising public power over a jurisdiction it doesn’t have.

  • Mandamus

The Writ of Mandamus is a court order written by a court and delivered to an inferior government official, public authority, subordinate court, or corporation. It instructs them to perform specific duties under the law properly.

2. Subpoenas

Process servers also deliver subpoenas. This document is a written order to summon a witness for court proceedings.

A government agency usually writes a subpoena. A request for this document is usually made by a lawyer on the court’s behalf. Once issued a subpoena, the recipient mustn’t ignore it, or else they will be punished accordingly. To shed more light on this, here are the three types of subpoenas that process servers can deliver:

  • Subpoena ad testificandum

This is a writ issued by the court to order the recipient to make an appearance in court to give an oral testimony in a specific case.

  • Subpoena duces tecum

This writ is issued to an individual, ordering them to bring documents relevant to the case or to provide other forms of evidence.

  • Subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum

This is a combination of the above-mentioned writs. The recipient is ordered to testify orally and also provide relevant documents or tangible evidence.

3. Complaint

A complaint is a well-detailed formal legal document outlining the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant. This document forms the basis for a lawsuit and notifies the accused of the allegations made against them.

A core part of this legal document is the relief. The defendant is presented with different remedies that the plaintiff is seeking for this issue to be resolved. Once this document is served, the defendant is expected to file an answer highlighting whether the allegations are true. If they still can’t find common ground, then a lawsuit will be filed.

4. Summons

It is also within the duty of a process server to deliver Summons. A court writes these legal documents to inform the recipient that there is a pending lawsuit that requires their physical appearance or written response within a specific period.

In civil cases, summons notify the defendant about the lawsuit and the amount of time they have to prepare to appear before the court. For criminal cases, summons serve as an alternative to an arrest warrant.


Process servers also deliver divorce papers, restraining orders, eviction notices, freezing orders, statutory demands, and other small claim documents. Their services seem so simple, but they are crucial for justice to be served.

So, that’s just about it. We have pretty much covered all the kinds of papers a process server serves. Now that you know, be sure to include them in all legal procedures.

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