TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: January 12, 2017
RE: Rule 4, N.D.R.Civ.P., Persons Subject to Jurisdiction; Process; Service
At the September meeting, the committee considered adoption of a service by web posting system similar to that used in Alaska. Under the September draft, service by web posting would have replaced the current system of service by newspaper publication. The committee decided this was too extreme a solution and requested that staff redraft the proposal so that service by newspaper publication would be retained and service by web publication could be used when publication in a county newspaper was not required by law.
A revised draft is attached. It retains the current system and adds service by web publication as an alternative form of publication. It also adds a requirement that an internet search for the missing party be performed as part of the pre-publication diligent inquiry process.
The new draft also includes a proposed new paragraph listing supplemental forms of service that can be required by court order, such as service by posting to an online newspaper website, service by email, posting to a social network account, posting on a bulletin board or posting on the front door of the absent party's home. These alternatives are based on those in Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 4, copy attached. At the last meeting, the discussion showed that some committee members were hesitant about allowing these supplemental methods of service.
Also attached is a 2016 article on why Alaska chose to switch to the service by web posting system and the process they used to put it into place. The article states that service by web posting has been effective in Alaska: thousands of legal notices have been posted to the website; a local U.S. District Court judge authorized service by posting on the website; clerk of court surveys show high customer satisfaction with the legal notice website and the elimination of publication costs in most cases; and clerks have reported that litigants have appeared in court after learning about cases from the legal notice website.
Some pages from the Alaska web posting site are attached. It is a simple system: there is a legal notices webpage with links to the various types of notices. Following the links leads to a current list of notices that has additional links to case specific notice documents. As discussed by Justice Sandstrom at the last meeting, it would be technically easy to create a website like the Alaska site. Given the current budget climate, if the committee approved the proposed amendments the main issue would be whether the court system has the necessary personal and resources to run such system.