Risk & Associates County Civil - March 2020


MARCH 2020

An Unexpected Journey to Civil Process Service


E ven before I began my career in the civil process profession, I realized that a lot of people rely on others during pivotal moments of their lives — like when serving someone a critically important court document. To find out afterward that the job was done incorrectly, and the service was deemed faulty, is simply not acceptable. It isn’t a light realization; it’s incredibly important to get things right the first time. My time and experience in law enforcement and corrections helped mold my values and work ethics. I will admit that, considering my less than stellar inner-city background, some people might be surprised to find out I’ve always liked school. I grew up in Lansing, and while I later became passionate about becoming a police officer, it wasn’t always that simple. I lived in a rough neighborhood and often heard myself referred to as “just another juvenile delinquent.” Luckily, I was drawn to history and law in school, and it didn’t take me very long to realize I didn’t want to continue going down a bad path. With the availability of a dual enrollment program in the 11th grade, I graduated from high school and Lansing Community College at virtually the same time. At 18, I became a police cadet. By 19, I had graduated from the police training academy and was a sworn police officer. Like many officers, my attraction to law stemmed from wanting to help people. My time as an officer really prepared me to help people who don’t necessarily want to speak to me! These people have often had

a terrible day, week, or month, so I learned that keeping my own emotions in check would help me approach them and keep our contact positive. It’s a skill that helps me even to this day, especially when we are required to serve and enforce a court order, seize someone’s property, or conduct an eviction. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of the circumstance. As a law enforcement and corrections veteran of over 30 years, I didn’t find myself in the civil process profession until I agreed to help serve some papers for a civil deputy who, as it turned out, was retiring. I recognized the opportunity to move forward in the field, so I began accepting more and more work. About this time, Raymond Voet, the former Ionia County prosecuting attorney, became the new judge for the Ionia County district court. Shortly after his appointment, I was offered a position as a court officer, an opportunity I have always appreciated more than words could ever express. It was this first appointment that led to 21 additional court officer appointments and a host of special deputy positions throughout Michigan. But as I learned more about the field, I grew concerned: Very few regulations held process servers accountable for their actions. Many process servers lacked the motivation to perform well, and others simply had very little fear of filing false or

misleading affidavits. I saw an opportunity to create an agency that would make sure we did it right. I developed several procedures and instituted protocols to ensure we would accomplish this goal. Now, we don’t just give people papers and say, “Go serve them.” We have an internal process server training program, our own proprietary software and mobile app that interface with our secure website, and we constantly conduct internal audits and activity reports to make sure we stay on track. Our agency places a unique focus on technology in our everyday operations and does so without losing track of what matters most: the people. I strongly believe in treating people right, whether they’re my staff, our clients, court personnel, or the people we must serve. As a self-admitted workaholic, I know civil process and judgment enforcement isn’t the only important part of the job. We must also, establish and maintain trusting relationships with all our clients, the public, and each other. Thank you for reading our first newsletter. I’m looking forward to bringing you easy- to-understand procedural advice, news commentaries, and fun articles beyond the civil process service profession in future editions. Have a great rest of your month!

-Rick Risk



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