Mighty Mike: What's up Server Nation? My name is Michael Reid, the podcast server. You are listening to Process Server Daily. On this podcast, we interview the top legal support professionals and get the tips, tools, and tactics that they use to get the job done and build a successful company. I'm a big fan of storytelling and I'm excited about today's guest.
Mighty Mike: Before we get started, let's give a big shout out to my new sponsor, Server Manager. We have a special gift for all of my listeners at the end of today's episode.
Mighty Mike: Okay, Server Nation. We are joined here by the owner of Love to Serve Them, LLC. He has 20 years of experience serving papers both privately and for Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He has covered Los Angeles County and surrounding counties in Southern California since March of 2012. Dave Luce, welcome to the show.
Dave Luce: Thanks Mike, glad to be here.
Mighty Mike: Awesome, Dave. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the industry?
Dave Luce: Well, I started serving papers in 1996. What had happened is the company I was working for ... The Northridge Earthquake happened and basically imploded the owner's house. So that business went away. And I was in the bar one night talking to one of my high school friends who had an attorney service. He was like, "Why don't you go come work for me for a while?" I was like, "Yeah, I'm not doing anything else right now."
Dave Luce: And within a couple of months I started noticing that these attorneys were asking, "Hey, we want this Dave guy to go serve it." And probably about six months later, that business went belly-up. So I'm like, "Well hey, I'll just go get the license and bond." And then I went back to all these attorneys and was like, "Hey, I'm in business for me now. I just do the process service. Let the attorney service do your other stuff." So I already had a built-in clientele.
Mighty Mike: That's awesome, Dave. Do you have a family?
Dave Luce: Yeah, I have a family. One daughter. Was a single parent for her. We moved back in with my mom a couple years ago to help take care of her. She's 83 now.
Mighty Mike: That's really cool, yeah. Family's really important. How old's your daughter?
Dave Luce: She's 21.
Mighty Mike: Whoa, that's cool. Adult kids. I look forward to that day.
Dave Luce: Cherish the time now.
Mighty Mike: That's what I hear. So, Dave, there's a reason why you're on the show. You have a lot going on. You're ... I watch you on Facebook and the different things, hearing your posts about the different awards that you've won and things like that. So I'm really excited to hear your story. Lots of good stories, I'm sure, that you have. But we always start here at Process Server Daily, we start with your worst experience working in the field. Tell us a little bit about that.
Dave Luce: My worst experience definitely has to be with the Sheriff's Department. In 2003, I was serving a criminal subpoena on a lady for probably the 300th time in three years, and she sicked her 70-pound Chow on me. And I ended up putting two fractures in an ankle, 20 fractures in my knee, unit broke my wrist and got a nerve disease that spread body-wide from there. They were going after her for 8-10 for assault with intent, and she pled out to a year and a half in the state. But that's gotta definitely be my absolute worst because that ended that career. I was not able ... Because I had nerve disease, I could not return to active duty.
Mighty Mike: Oh my gosh. And that was while you were with the Sheriff's Department?
Dave Luce: Yes.
Mighty Mike: Oh man. So it was a Chow Chow, the black ones with the purple tongue?
Dave Luce: Yeah, yeah. I was about halfway back to my unit and I heard her open the door and was like, "Sick him." I used to carry a little micro cassette recorder in my pocket, because people would call in and say I said a derogatory name or whatever. And even though it's a he said-she said, something will go on my file. So I'm like, "Oh, no, no, no, no. This ain't happening." So I turn that on, radio in, and then continue on serving case number so-and-so on such-and-such and let it run. And then when I would get one of these complaints, I'd play that tape for my sergeant and my lieutenant. There's my proof that none of this happened, so nothing goes into my file. It's not for legal reasons, it's more just to CYA for me.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, no. That's smart.
Dave Luce: And you hear all of that on that tape.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, that's smart. So you were able to hear the, "Sick him?"
Dave Luce: Oh yeah.
Mighty Mike: Okay.
Dave Luce: And the funny thing is, is she came out and she's laughing because I couldn't get up off the ground. I couldn't even reach the microphone on my shoulder. I just had to hit the red button, what we call the EPIRB button, which as far as the department's concerned, I've just been shot. And you hear her laughing and then all of a sudden you hear her stop and literally every point on the compass sirens are screaming in. I'm right on the border of Altadena, so I've got Altadena sheriffs coming, Pasadena PD coming, fire, ambulance, helicopter.
Mighty Mike: Wow.
Dave Luce: Yeah.
Mighty Mike: Oh, man. And now, did you already tell me? Did she do jail time?
Dave Luce: She pled out to a year and a half. So I was like, "Welcome to the family." That's why I served her so many times. She wasn't a criminal, but her all her family and relatives were. And in LA County, only the Sheriffs can serve criminal subpoenas from the DAs and public defenders. And so at least once a week for three years, sometimes two or three times a week, just where she lived, I'd be banging on her door about 10 after five in the morning with one of these subpoenas. And she just went crazy that morning.
Mighty Mike: I can't tell you how many times I've interviewed people and the response I got was, "You know, I served her a bunch of times," or, "I served him a bunch of times and I thought, it's gonna be fine. It's been fine every time before. And then this one time."
Mighty Mike: And I gotta tell you, dogs are my biggest concern when I'm out serving. I carry a little taser. I don't carry it as much anymore. Maybe just I think I can handle myself more by having a gun and things, but I try not to ... I really don't carry very often. And as far as tasers go, have you ever carried a taser, Dave?
Dave Luce: No. No. When needed I'll take a weapon with me, or I have body armor. I'll wear my body armor. But for the most part I just try to keep very low-key. And I've gotta say, I've had way more problems serving for the Sheriff's Department than I've ever had serving privately.
Mighty Mike: So what I take privately from your story Dave, for the most part, is to CYA. Having that recorder on you allowed you to be able to prove that she wanted her dog to do that. In some circumstances, the dog could have bit you and she could have gotten in no trouble at all. The dog broke out of the gate, or whatever, depending on what her defense might be, so that was a really good thing. So this was an audio recorder, or a video recorder?
Dave Luce: No, no, an audio. It's one of those little tiny cassette recorders where the cassette is maybe an inch. Totally old school. This 2003 when this happened, but I started doing it in 2001.
Mighty Mike: Oh, okay.
Dave Luce: Well no, 2000, because I started with the Sheriff's Department in 2000.
Mighty Mike: But that's the technology that they had at that time and you guys were utilizing it, luckily, so that's a great story. What do you want Server Nation to get from your story?
Dave Luce: Well for me, I think the best thing for any process server is to have total situational awareness. Be aware of what's going on around you, what's going on in front of you and what's going on behind you. Because I have some areas that I go into, covering all of Los Angeles County, that are really nasty areas. I've served down in Watts and Compton. I've never even felt fearful down there.
Mighty Mike: Wow. Either that's because it's not as bad as they say or you're just a bad mamma jamma...
Dave Luce: It can be as bad as they say, but like I said, I keep situational awareness. I see what's going on when I first pull up in front of the property. And if there's stuff going on that I don't feel safe doing it, I'll call for backup. I'll call LAPD or I'll call the local PD and say, "Hey, I'm a registered process server. I'm here to serve eviction papers. I just need some backup to keep the peace." And they respond.
Mighty Mike: I was gonna say, do they ... Because in a lot of counties they're like, "Well, we'll see if we can send someone out." And you're there for an hour. Almost doesn't make sense to even sit around, because sometimes you wonder if they're even gonna show. So they were pretty supportive down there?
Dave Luce: Yeah, they're very supportive. And you just tell them not, "I'm just here to serve this." It's, "I'm registered LA County." I give them my number. "And I'm here to serve such and such. This is what's going on. I just need some backup." Or, if I show up at say a private community, which as you know here in California, they have to allow us access when there's a guard at the gate. There have been some times where the guard doesn't want to let me in, and it's like, "Here's the deal. Either you let me in or I'm gonna call the PD. One, you're required by state law, and two, you could end up getting arrested for obstruction."
Dave Luce: And every now and then they'll be like, "Yeah. No, go ahead and call." I had one, it was hilarious. I waited probably an hour, hour and a half for them to come. It was right up at the top of the mountains in Mulholland in the Hollywood Hills. The unit they dispatched was from Santa Monica, and it was a sergeant and a senior officer. And I said, "Yeah, I'm here. I showed them my ID and the papers and he wouldn't let me in. I even showed him the statute." He's like, "Wait a minute. You showed him the statute and he's still not letting you in?" No. Went right over to him. "You're gonna open this gate or I'm gonna put the cuffs on you. He showed you you're required to let him in."
Dave Luce: "But they said we're not supposed to." "I don't care." And I went in and I served the papers and I came out, he was still lecturing this kid.
Mighty Mike: That's cool. You like those little wins when you can stick it to them like that. That's awesome, Dave. Tell me about your greatest experience working in the field?
Dave Luce: Well, my fondest one where I get the most satisfaction is where I get those people that just absolutely think I'm not gonna be able to get them. And that one I was just telling you about was actually one of those. And I had six bad addresses. And it was for a debtor examination, so I had to get her personally.
Dave Luce: ... and it was for a debtor examination. So I had to get her personally and finally came up with this address and when I served her she was just ... Because I had another guard go with me, she's just screaming and losing her mind about, "You're not supposed to let them on here." I was like, "LAPD's out there, they said we have to let him go on." "Well, I'm going to have you fired." "I'm not getting fired over you." And I'd actually talked to her on the phone and she said, "Good luck finding me." And hung up.
Mighty Mike: Oh wow.
Dave Luce: So those are the ones that I'm just like, "Yeah." You know, the ones that I also really enjoy are when I can get somebody that is an abuser, someone that abuses women or children that I can get them served and get that restraining order on them. So that there's at least something to stop this abuse from going on. Those are the ones I get a really good satisfaction out of.
Mighty Mike: Those are good ones. So, Dave, I gotta call you out on this one man. I know that you have a story in your back pocket that you call the greatest story of all time. We gotta hear it.
Dave Luce: 20 years in this business, this story will never be beat. I've got an attorney-client that his ... one of his clients, he shares an office with a modeling agency and they've discovered that a lot of their models their images are being used without their knowledge and consent to advertise for strip clubs and swingers clubs and sex magazines. So in the last three years, I've probably served every stripper club, nudey bar, gentleman's club, sex rag in LA and Orange County.
Mighty Mike: You poor guy.
Dave Luce: And I got this one ... I got this one and it was for a swingers club down by USC campus and my family knows what I'm doing and when I get an amusing one I'll be like, "Oh this ought to be interesting." And I told my daughter, and so she actually looked the place up and I was out in the field and she called me and she's like, "Dad, Dad, guess what night it is at that place you're going." "I don't know, what night is it?" "It's pantsless night, what are you wearing?" "I'm not there to participate, I'm wearing my pants of course." So I get there and while I'm waiting for the owner to come out, this big white limousine, stretch limo pulls up and this fine woman, I mean a perfect ten gets out of the car holding a dog leash and I think, "Well it's going to be a little Pomeranian or something come out of the car." No. This guy comes out of the car wearing a leather hood and no top and assless chaps.
Dave Luce: So I start laughing and this guy goes running up to me till he gets to the end of the dog leash and it's like eek, and now I'm busting a gut, I can hardly stand I'm laughing so hard, he's like "Officer, officer, I want your badge number, I'm reporting you to your supervisor." It's like, "Good luck with that, I own the company, besides that you're the one on the end of a dog collar wearing a leather hood and assless chaps. You earned the laugh."
Mighty Mike: Oh man, that must have been quite an experience.
Dave Luce: It was funny, like I said, 20 years in this business that story will never be beat.
Mighty Mike: I don't think ... I'm going to put it on the show notes and we're going to see as time goes on, we'll see if anybody ... that'll be the challenge.
Dave Luce: Okay, yeah, there you go.
Mighty Mike: So Dave, what are you working on right now that has you most fired up?
Dave Luce: Well as far as things in the industry, the thing that has me most fired up are the unscrupulous people that pass themselves off as professional servers. You know that they go out and they'll promise service or no payment or they charge a ridiculously small price. I mean I had a friend that she lost her house because of fraudulent service.
Dave Luce: And she contacted me, she was in the middle of her house and got a notice that the house had been foreclosed and auctioned off and they had 30 days to leave. So she called me and I said, "Well the first thing you gotta do is you gotta get in that file and look at that proof of service because of your schedule, you're all over the place. And if you can prove you were not there and it says Personal Service you've got a case." So they've got a huge lawsuit going against the process server, the attorney service, the attorneys and the bank, but because it was already sold in auction she has no prayer of getting this house back and she was really devastated because three of her five kids were home birthed in that house.
Mighty Mike: That's terrible. I experienced that same situation with a lot of the unlawful detainers I do in mobile home parks. A lot of times the mobile home park people, they do the eviction. I've actually done an eviction on a friend of mine because they were saying she was a nuisance, I told her, "You need to get an attorney." And she waited too long till the last minute and she ended up having to move out of the house. They get the property and they make it difficult, so even in the auction, you'd have to ... If you won the auction you'd have to move the trailer off the park, that's the way they word it.
Mighty Mike: So sewer service has been running rampant, in a few other states I noticed that they were talking about passing a law to have cameras on process servers, it's one of the ideas that I saw that was proposed, and I'm not sure exactly what state it is, I'll have to look it up maybe post it in the show notes for this episode, but what do you think about that? Making something like that required for process servers?
Dave Luce: Well, I think it was New York that actually changed their law that the anything that is served in attempts has to have some sort of a photo that's date, time and geocoded stamped and that's because of all the sewer service and I think the one, in particular, was ABC Legal got a huge judgment against them for that.
Mighty Mike: I heard about that, yeah, ABC Legal.
Dave Luce: And it's like ... Really the only attorney service that I do work for is called Firefly Legal, they've got 16 offices in the Midwest and the east coast and I'm contracted to do all their LA County stuff, and the reason I work for them is they pay me my rate. They don't pay me some pittance, they pay me my rate and when I do the attempts and stuff, as I've filling it out in their software it shows the geocode. You know, 'cause I have to put in all the other information, but right at the bottom, it shows the geocode where I'm at, the GPS location. So they have a record of that, so I think that kind of stuff is a really good idea. On my own if I'm doing a posting I just take a picture on my camera phone and that has that on that and then I'll print the picture out and sent it to the attorney so they've got it.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, that's really good and now most of the apps have an option to be able to take a photograph and attach it right there on the job. You know, ServeManager, Tristar and I'm sure there are others that do the same thing.
Mighty Mike: So Dave what do you want Server Nation to get from what you're working on right now? What do you think that the servers out there should be thinking about when it comes all of this sewer service talk?
Dave Luce: I think the best thing is to keep very detailed notes. I keep hard copy notes of all my attempts, all service situations, who I've served, what their description is, and probably once a year I'll get called into court because of somebody's challenging service. And about half those times, once I write up my declaration and send it to the attorney I don't even have to show up, they just drop it and other times when I've actually had to go in and testify I've had the judge look them dead in the eyes and say, "You say you were out of town, I want to see some receipts and notes because according to his testimony and his description of you, you were absolutely served."
Mighty Mike: That's good yeah, I always love when I go in there and they say they weren't served the notice, they always like to contest the notice, and I have a date and time and GPS stamped photograph of the posting on their house, you know, in some cases them walking into the door or whatever. And the judge just shakes his head like, "So you never saw this man. You know, come on."
Dave Luce: I mean, another thing that I also do when I have to do a mailing is I send my clients back the receipt that shows that at this post office on this date at this time to this city and this zip code there was a letter sent. So that's further back up that the mailing went out.
Mighty Mike: Are you talking about the certification, or are you just put them as the return address?
Dave Luce: No when you do a posting and mailing.
Mighty Mike: Yeah.
Dave Luce: Or when you do a subserve and have to mail the copy.
Mighty Mike: Oh the certified, yeah.
Dave Luce: What I have to put on the proof of service, you know, I mailed a copy on this date from this location to the address where served. I'd make sure that I don't just ... You know I pay for it at the post office so I get that mailing receipt and then I send my clients that too so they've got more back up.
Mighty Mike: Right, that's good. Yeah what we started doing was printing a ... You know how when you send certified, not certified, but just a first-class mail when you subserve something, we started putting our clients as the return address so we don't have to shred the documents and it's like a double verification when it gets sent back, 'cause a lot of times a lot of the evictions that we do it's a vacant property, so it ends up the certified stuff ends up getting send back to our client.
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Mighty Mike: Welcome back to the show. Dave, are you ready for the Rapid Fire Round?
Dave Luce: Yes, I am.
Mighty Mike: What is your favorite skip trace tactic?
Dave Luce: My favorite tactic is to definitely find out where they were before, get whatever information that I from the client first. Because then that allows me to do a better skip trace. Because it might be that one little piece of information that leads me to the correct information that I'm looking for.
Mighty Mike: That's good. Do you use a form, or are you just working with email?
Dave Luce: No, I just work it with email and whatever information. That's how I get most of my jobs is by email. They mail them to me by email, and I tell them I've printed and received OK, and then I keep them advised throughout the whole process.
Mighty Mike: That's great. Dave, what's your favorite tool for defense?
Dave Luce: Definitely would have to be my fists. I don't play around. Again, my first defense is situational awareness. But if somebody takes that first swing, mine's going to break your nose and my second one's going in your throat. You're not getting up. We're done.
Mighty Mike: So Dave, I want to know more about that really fast. Are you a ninja?
Dave Luce: No. I've just had a lot of good training over the years. I spent most of the 80s running security for most of the NFL and all the Super Bowls, concert tours all over the country. I've been in riots from 50 people to 5,000 people.
Mighty Mike: That's good stuff, Dave. What book would you recommend?
Dave Luce: For the Process Servers, I would recommend whatever your code of civil procedure is. Know exactly what you can do and when you can do it, and how you can do it.
Mighty Mike: That's good. Dave, what is the greatest advice you've ever received?
Dave Luce: Greatest advice I ever got was from my grandfather, who's actually the man I considered to be my father, because he taught me what it was to be a man, and how to be a father. And he always said, "Having integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody's looking." And we as Process Servers, we have to have integrity. Number one, our clients have to know that, when we do something and we say that we did something, they have absolute confidence that it happened exactly the way we said it did.
Mighty Mike: That's a good one. One of my favorite quotes is, "Your actions are speaking so loud, I can't hear what you're saying." Dave, what would you do if you woke up today, you had all the same skills and knowledge, had no clients, a smartphone, a car, and only $100, what would you do in the next week?
Dave Luce: Definitely it would be to get a website, to get a website and then take whatever I've got left from that and get some nice flyers printed up. And the way that I got a lot of clients when I first started back in '96 is, I would stand out in front of courthouses, dress nice, and give them my card and a flyer, and let them know what I do. And I've picked up a lot of clients like that, especially a lot of those coming out from doing the self-filings for small claims.
Mighty Mike: That's good. I've always said that when I retire, I'm going to go stand in front of the courthouse and I'm going to have a new company. It's going to be called The Bad News Bear. And I'm just going to have a big bear suit on and going to stand in front of the courthouse and hand out cards. It'll be a little plastic bear that'll be like, "I serve people." And then a, because you're retired. You could do whatever you want to do when you're retired.
Dave Luce: Technically, I am retired. This is my retirement job, was to go back into this. I finally got my pension and benefits for life from the Sheriff's Department, because it was injured in the line of duty. And I really enjoy process serving. I've always liked helping people, and I've always viewed what we do as process servers as, we're helping start the wheels of justice for the person that got screwed over to begin with. Because they can't get any justice until somebody serves somebody else.
Mighty Mike: That's good. Yeah, that's good. Some of my attorney clients' friends will say, well, as soon as we get in the courtroom, the first thing they say is, "Do you have a proof of service?" And if you don't have a proof of service, you got to have a reason or a declaration or something to continue the hearing. And sometimes, it just means you lose your case. So that's good. Yeah, we get the wheels of justice moving. We got quite a few good quotes going here. So Dave, so we talked about the website. We talked about standing out in front of the courthouse. Would you agree that networking is one of the most important things?
Dave Luce: It definitely is important. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, join some of the national associations, if you can afford it. But definitely get your name out there, and make sure that the name you're getting out there is a good one. Because that's how I get most of my referrals. I mean, I had one of my clients actually referred me to the Michigan Office to the Attorney General, that I now serve stuff that they send out here to LA.
Mighty Mike: Wow.
Dave Luce: I mean, I thought it was a joke when I got the email, and I replied back and was like, "No." It actually is the Michigan Office to the Attorney General.
Mighty Mike: Well, I got to tell you, I was going to say, because networking, to me, seems like one of your big strengths. Anybody that I'd talk to that I asked serving in that area, they go, "Go to Dave, go to Dave Luce." So that's a-
Dave Luce: Yeah. And my clients, especially the ones that are new, one thing they really appreciate is that, they don't have to think about it. Once they give it to me, it doesn't go into that black hole and they don't know the progress with it or the attempts or anything like that. I mean, I have clients that will, like I said, [inaudible 00:25:50], they'll pay me a lot of money to go as far south as San Diego and as far north as Santa Barbara.
Mighty Mike: Wow.
Dave Luce: They know they can find somebody else cheaper, but they know they're not going to find anybody better.
Mighty Mike: Right.
Dave Luce: So they'll send me and pay me several hundred dollars.
Mighty Mike: Well, Dave, you are the man. And what I take most from that story is, to watch your name and your credibility. What are some of the main things that Process Servers do to ruin their credibility?
Dave Luce: I would say, promising the moon and not delivering it. Saying, "Oh, well I'll get this done within x amount of time," and then not doing it.
Mighty Mike: That's good.
Dave Luce: The way I base my regular service is, three attempts done within a week of me getting the papers. And so, sometimes it's a lot faster. But I'm not going to say, "Oh, well, I'll get to it tomorrow," because I may have a rush that's going 30 miles the other way, and I can't get to it. So I just give them a range of dates. They're also happy that I get it done so quickly.
Mighty Mike: So Dave, what is the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye?
Dave Luce: Well, my website is www.LoveToServeThem, all one word, .com. You can find me on Facebook at LoveToServeThemLLC. You can also find on Yelp at Love To Serve Them. I try to, I'm on LinkedIn under the same. I try to keep it fairly simple, because again, I'm a one-man operation.
Mighty Mike: Yeah.
Dave Luce: And I would much prefer that I get. Like with Yelp, I almost never get a client off Yelp. The ones that call me off Yelp, they're looking for an attorney or they want something for nothing, or I'll tell them my price and it's like, "Well, do you guarantee service?" "No." "Well, I've talked to others that guarantee a service for less." And I'm like, "Run, run. Do not use that." Because of course they're going to say they served it when they didn't, because they want to get paid.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, that's one element that people don't really recognize sometimes is like, this isn't a McDonald's drive-thru. Right? You're not just like, transactionally paying them and then they're doing something that's. If it's important to you, then pay the money. Right? Like, I've noticed that most of the time, attorneys and paralegals, they don't even blink an eye at my $79, $99 rates. They don't even blink an eye. They'd just say, "Okay," because they'd pass it on their clients and they know that you're a professional and you're going to take care of it so. I love that Dave. All of Dave's information is going to be available in the show notes on his page. You can go to ProcessServerDaily.com/dave and that'll take you to his show notes page. Dave, I want to personally thank you for being on the show. I have been impressed with your story and I'm excited to share it with the world.
Dave Luce: I appreciate it, Michael. I see all your posts all the time, and you definitely keep me laughing, but you also have a lot of great information, especially for those new servers.
Dave Luce: I would say that one thing for somebody that's new coming into this that doesn't know what process serving is all about is, you just have to remember that you're blindsiding people with legal notices. And yes, they're going to get upset, but don't take it personally. You have to have a thick skin to do this job.
Mighty Mike: That's good. Thank you for that, and now, Dave, I appreciate it. So until next time, Server Nation, you've been served up some awesomeness by Dave Luce, the Process Server, and Mighty Mike, the Podcast Server.
Mighty Mike: Don't forget to get your free 60-day trial from ServeManager at ProcessServerDaily.com/ServeManager. Server Nation, I want to personally thank you for listening to today's episode, and ask you a question: Do you or your staff need additional training? Can you handle more clients, but not sure where to get them? I've developed a solution, PSDUniversity.com offers a step-by-step online training by the top legal support professionals in the industry. Visit www.PSDUniversity.com