How to Serve Court Papers by Mail in California
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These instructions apply to most types of responsive pleadings, such as Answers and Demurrers. They also apply to Motions, with the exception that you may file three, rather than two, copies with the court. Two is the maximum number of copies the court will officially stamp "Endorsed/Filed," and give back to you, but with Motions, the court requires an extra copy for the judge to review prior to the hearing. Motions are also filed at a window rather than in the drop box. See the Step-by-Step guide on Writing and Scheduling Motions on our website at www.saclaw.org/pages/motions.aspx for more information.
Be sure to research the type of document you need to serve, to determine if the court has any special filing rules, such as requiring a different number of copies, or whether the documents to be filed in a different department. More information is available on the Sacramento County Superior Court's web site at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/civil/filing-instructions.aspx.
These instructions DO NOT apply to case-initiating paperwork, such as Summons, Complaints, Orders to Show Cause, Ex Parte Motions, or Restraining Orders. Case-initiating documents generally require Personal Service. See the Step-by-Step guide on Personal Service on our website at www.saclaw.org/pages/personal-service.aspx for more information.
All of the documents you file with the court in your case must be served on all other parties. Some documents, such as discovery requests and responses, are not filed with the court but must still be served. See the videos and Step-by-Step guides on Discovery on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/discovery-topic.aspx for more information.
You cannot serve your own documents.
Documents must be served by someone over 18 who is not a party to the case.
Responsive paperwork and Motions are served prior to filing with the court. The court will not accept these documents unless they are accompanied by a signed Proof of Service.
STEP 1: COMPLETE YOUR FORMS
Complete the forms or documents you wish to have served.
STEP 2: MAKE PHOTOCOPIES
Make a photocopy of your forms for each party, plus two photocopies for the court (two is the maximum number of copies the court will endorse, or officially stamp "Endorsed/Filed"). Make an additional copy for yourself, if you want one for your records while you wait for the court to return the endorsed copies, which may take up to six weeks.
STEP 3: SELECT YOUR SERVER
Documents must be served by someone over 18 who is not a party to the case. Give the copies you made in Step 2 to the person mailing your documents.
STEP 1: COMPLETE A PROOF OF SERVICE BY MAIL FORM
Fill out, but don't sign a Proof of Service by Mail (POS-030), available online at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/pos030.pdf. Click here for instructions for completing this form.
If more than one party is being served, attach Attachment to Proof of Service by First-Class Mail – Civil (Persons Served) (POS-030(P)), available online at http://www.courts. ca.gov/documents/pos030p.pdf and list all persons to whom copies were mailed.
If there is not enough room on POS-030 to list all the documents being served, attach Attachment to Proof of Service by First-Class Mail – Civil (Documents Served) (POS-030(D)), available online at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/pos030d.pdf, and list each document served.
STEP 2: PHOTOCOPY THE PROOF OF SERVICE FORM
Make a photocopy the unsigned Proof of Service (and attachments, if used) for each party to be served.
STEP 3: PREPARE THE DOCUMENTS FOR SERVICE
For each party to be served, put one copy of the documents to be served in an envelope, along with a copy of the unsigned Proof of Service. Address the envelope(s) to the attorney(s) or self-represented litigant(s) persons being served at the address listed in the caption of his/her/its/their court papers. If the party is represented by an attorney, the attorney, rather than the party, should be served. Adequate postage must be on the envelope. Make a copy of the envelope for the records of the party for whom you are serving the documents.
STEP 4: MAIL THE DOCUMENTS
Deposit the envelope with the US Postal Service, either at the post office or in a regular post office mail box. If your place of business has regular mail pick-up, and mail deposited in the business's outgoing mail is delivered to the post office the same day, the envelope may be placed in your business's outgoing mail drop.
STEP 5: SIGN THE ORIGINAL PROOF OF SERVICE FORM
You will be signing under penalty of perjury that you mailed the documents listed on the Proof of Service form.
FILING PARTY, SERVER, or ANYONE ELSE
STEP 1: MAKE PHOTOCOPIES
Make two photocopies of the signed Proof of Service form. Make an additional copy if the party for whom the documents were served wants one for his or her records while waiting for the court to return the endorsed copy.
STEP 2: ASSEMBLE THE DOCUMENTS FOR FILING
Create packets of documents:
Originals packet - The original document(s) served, and the original Proof of Service. The original document is the one with original signatures. All original documents should be left unstapled.
Copies packets - Photocopies of the documents served and signed Proofs of Service. These packets should be stapled. You should have at least two copies packets. You may have a third copies packet if the filing party made one to keep for their records while waiting for the court to return the endorsed copies.
STEP 3: FILE THE DOCUMENTS AT THE COURT HOUSE
Most documents will be placed in the drop box in Room 100 in the Sacramento Superior Court at 720 Ninth Street. Fill out and attach the Civil Document Drop-Off Sheet, and date stamp the back of the original packet. A supply of Civil Document Drop-Off Sheets, Credit Card Authorization Forms, and a date stamp are located near the drop box. Following the instructions posted at the drop box, place the unstapled original document packet plus two copies of the packet in the drop box, along with a check or Credit Card Authorization Form for the filing fee, if any. The remaining copy packet, if any, is for the filing party's records. The court will process the paperwork, and return the two copies packets, stamped "Endorsed/Filed," to the filing party. The court will retain the original papers for its file.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.
updated 11/13 mpj
reviewed 11/13 en