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Sheriff's Corner: The department's civil duties

Recently we received an email from a person who was wondering why a sheriff’s deputy was at her residence making an attempt to serve a paper. This month we will outline one of the divisions of the sheriff’s office that usually goes unnoticed, even though it’s a very important function of the office — the civil division.

This responsibility of the sheriff’s office is authorized and directed by Minnesota state statute. The Civil Process Division is charged with the responsibility to receive and execute “all processes, writs, precepts and orders issued or made by lawful authority and delivered to the sheriff” (MS 387.03). Every effort is made to make service of all process in a thorough, courteous and expeditious manner.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office Civil Process Division handles and serves all legal papers, as required by law. Civil papers are served on behalf of individuals, private attorneys, courts, county departments and agencies. While there are many different types of papers served by this unit, some of the most frequent are orders for protection, foreclosure notices, civil and criminal subpoenas, petitions for dissolution of marriage and eviction notices. The Civil Process Division conducts sales of personal and real property, including mortgage foreclosures sales and sheriff sales as directed by the court. We also perform evictions of tenants and seize money and property through bank levies, wage garnishments and real and personal property sales.

The Civil Process Unit is very busy. In 2012, 1,632 civil papers were served and 99 mortgage foreclosure sales conducted. These services and processes created approximately $79,837 in revenue. Our fee for service of a civil process paper is $75 per person served and it is a flat fee. Also in 2012, the sheriff’s office was able to create a position of civil service deputy, specifically assigned to the serving of civil process. Deputy Gary Sampson is currently assigned to this position.

If a deputy comes to your residence with a civil paper to be served, one of several things may happen. If the party is home that is to be served the deputy will give them the paper directly. This may complete the service required. You do not have to sign for the paper, however, the person serving them on you will file an affidavit saying that he/she did serve you and that will be proof enough that you were served. Your signature is not required to prove to a court that you were served. Some papers are allowed to be sub-served, meaning that anyone at the residence where the person is living can receive the paper for the party to be served. Other papers and notices are simply posted on a residence or property and an individual does not need to be served. Civil process papers can be served to a person during hours that “are normal for the person being served.”

If a deputy has been at your residence and leaves a card in your door or a note that there is a paper for you, please contact our office on our non-emergency line at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677 and indicate that there may be a paper service waiting for you. You can leave your name, phone number and possible times that you will be home for the civil process deputy to complete the service.

If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney. Our office is not permitted to provide legal advice nor can we suggest any specific attorney. We hope this article will be helpful in your civil process needs. Should you have any further questions, please contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Office Civil Process Division.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: email to; phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; by mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, PO Box No. 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.