Georgia Association of Professional Process Servers
POLICY MANUAL (rev. 3.24.18)
Policy No. 1 – MEMBERSHIP
- Screening – The names of all applicants shall be published to the membership. If no objection is received within thirty (30) days after publication, the applicant is deemed accepted.
- Objections – If an objection is received within thirty (30) days, the application will be held in abeyance until the applicant submits a written reply to the objection or appears in person at a Board meeting to answer personally.
If no written reply or waiver of right to reply is received, the application shall be considered rejected and applicant’s dues refunded.
- Felony Conviction – If a member is convicted of a felony, or has their authority to serve process revoked by any authority, the member must notify the administrator full details of said action within 14 days. In either instance the Board of Directors shall take whatever action they deem appropriate. Failure to notify the administrator, the Board may take appropriate action.
- Retired/Inactive Members – Any member, who has been a member in good standing for an uninterrupted period of a least five (5) years and has retired or become inactive in the field of process serving, shall be eligible to apply to the Board of directors for a Retired/Inactive class of membership. It will be the determination of the Board to approve or disapprove the member’s request.
Annual dues will be set for this class of membership at the annual conference.
This class of membership will entitle the member to receive a subscription to the GAPPS newsletter, have their name, address and telephone number printed in the membership directory (if requested), and receive a copy of the membership directory.
The retired/inactive class of membership will have no voting rights. In the event a member in this class returns to an active role in the profession, they will be required to become a full member.
- Honorary Member – The Board of Directors at their discretion may designate any person an Honorary Member. Honorary members will be exempt from annual dues and will have no voting rights.
This class of membership will entitle the member to receive a subscription to the GAPPS newsletter and to have only their name printed in the membership directory. There will be no contact information for this class of membership.
The Board of Directors at their discretion will have the authority to delete any Honorary Member designation previously conferred.
- Certified Process Server Badge – All GAPPS Members who are Certified Process Servers will have a “Certified” badge by the member listing on the GAPPS Website. Any member, who lets the Certification lapse, must notify the Board of Directors within 14 days. The Board of Directors has the authority to delete the “Certified” badge from the member listing when notified or upon gaining knowledge of the lapse in Certification.
Policy No. 2 – DUES
- Any applicant or member who because of hardship is unable to pay dues in full, may, in writing request the Board to grant a reduction or delay in payment. The Board may take that action it deems appropriate in each case.
Policy No. 3 – OFFICERS and DIRECTORS
- Upon completion of their term in office, any officer, director or committee chair that refuses to release any and all Association records, files and lists on demand shall be subject to the Association’s disciplinary procedure.
- The Secretary shall record all motions made, who made the motion and results of the vote at all Board Meetings. The Secretary shall verify the record, making any adjustments deemed necessary, and disseminate to the Board of Directors within 30 days for approval at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors.
- Responsibility to Uphold Standards of Confidentiality
Members elected to the Board of Directors as an officer and/or director are vested with professional responsibilities in addition to those enumerated in the GAPPS Code of Ethics for members. The Board engages in deliberations of many matters having serious effects on the Association and individual members, and the Association can be significantly damaged by premature disclosure of confidential information. Therefore, each Board Member, as well as certain committee members who the Board concludes are privy to such confidential information, must understand and uphold standards of confidentiality. Each Board Member, prior to taking the oath of office, and each committee member designated by the Board as being privy to confidential information, prior to accepting committee membership, must agree to abide by ethical and professional standards.
C-1 Unless first authorized by the Board to do so, a Board Member has no power or authority to speak for the Association.
For any matters handled by the Board in Executive Session:
C-1(a) A Board Member will not disclose information about the Board’s and/or Association’s activities unless those activities are already known by the membership or have been published to the membership, and first authorized by the Board. This section shall also apply to any member who is not on the Board but is allowed to attend any part of an Executive Session.
C-1(b) Notice to members of the Board’s decisions should be made in writing and in a manner that allows all affected parties to be informed before the membership is informed.
- Consequences of Violating the Standards of Confidentiality
D-1 Questions as to whether a Board Member has violated the Standards of Confidentiality may be raised by any member of the Board during an Executive Session of any regularly scheduled or specially scheduled Board meeting. The member alleged to have violated the standards of confidentiality shall be provided the opportunity to be present during the meeting. If the member declines to attend the meeting, the Board may conduct the meeting or delay the meeting at its discretion.
D-2 The Board shall, by majority vote, determine what action, if any, should be taken to resolve the matter. The Board may vote to take no action if it is believed no violation of the standards of confidentiality has taken place, or if the Board believes the violation was inadvertent or of a minor nature. The Board may vote to take action including, but not limited to, an informal admonishment by the President, up to and including termination of GAPPS membership. With the exception of termination of GAPPS membership, all such discipline shall be determined by majority vote of the Board. No termination of GAPPS membership under this Policy shall be effected except by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.
- Conflicts of Interest – Board Members have loyalties to GAPPS, to their individual companies and to other entities. Board Members must stay alert for potential or perceived conflicts between loyalties to those interests and disclose potential conflicts to the Board, and proceed with great care when dealing with situations where the conflict may arise. In such cases, the Board Member should consider abstaining from voting on an issue.
- Consequences of Not Reporting Conflicts of Interest – Questions as to whether a Board Member did not promptly report a conflict of interest may be raised by any member of the Board during an Executive Session of any regularly scheduled or specially scheduled Board meeting. The member alleged to have not reported a conflict of interest shall be provided the opportunity to be present during the meeting, and to be represented by a person of the member’s choice. If the member declines to attend the meeting, the Board may conduct the meeting or delay the meeting at its discretion.
The Board shall, by majority vote, determine what action, if any, should be taken to resolve the matter. The Board may vote to take no action if it is believed no violation of the duty to report conflicts of interest has taken place, or if the Board believes the violation was inadvertent or of a minor nature. The Board may vote to take action including, but not limited to, an informal admonishment by the President, up to and including revocation of GAPPS membership. With the exception of revocation of GAPPS membership, all such discipline shall be determined by majority vote of the Board. No revocation of GAPPS membership under this Policy shall be effected except by a by a 50%+1 vote of the Board.
- Lodging – When deemed appropriate, lodging expenses may be paid for by GAPPS for members of the Board of Directors and / or committee members.
Policy No. 4 – GRIEVANCE & ARBITRATION
- The President shall appoint a Chairperson to handle all matters involving grievance and arbitration.
- Any member who has cause to complain that a member of GAPPS has violated a provision of the By-laws or Code of Ethics may submit their complaint to the Chairperson in the manner prescribed in this policy manual.
- Complaints regarding nonpayment of bills shall also be handled pursuant to the procedures in this policy manual.
- Should the Chairperson be involved in the complaint, the grievance shall be submitted to the President who will serve as, or appoint, a temporary Chairperson for this matter only.
- Procedure For Filing Non-payment Grievances
E-1 The complaining member (hereafter referred to as “Complainant”), after taking reasonable steps to collect a debt which is now sixty (60) days delinquent, shall send an original Notice of Pending complaint to the nonpaying member (hereafter referred to as “Respondent’), by regular mail and/or electronic means, with a copy to the Chairperson.
E-2 If the payment is not made within fourteen (14) days of the date of mailing of the Notice of Pending Complaint; the Complainant may file a complaint by submitting the following documents to the Chairperson: 1) the original Nonpayment Complaint signed by the Complainant, 2) a copy of the Notice of Pending Complaint, and 3) all supporting documentation.
E-3 All forms pertaining to Grievance & Arbitration shall be on a form prescribed by the Board and shall be available in the membership directory or by contacting the Chairperson.
E-4 Any former member in good standing at the time of membership termination who has cause to complain that a member of GAPPS has violated a provision of the Bylaws or Code of Ethics, may submit their complaint to the Chairperson in the manner prescribed in this Policy Manual, but only as a complaint based on facts which occurred while the former member was a member but not more than one year prior to filing of the complaint.
E-5 If payment is not made or the options listed on the Notice of Intent to File Complaint form are not exercised within fourteen (14) days of the date of sending the Notice of Intent to File Complaint, the Complainant may file a complaint by submitting the following documents to the Chairperson: 1) the Nonpayment
Complaint form signed by the Complainant, 2) a copy of the Notice of Intent to file Complaint previously sent to the Respondent, 3) the Request for Service
or communication requesting service, 4) a copy of all invoices to be paid, and 5) any other supporting documentation.
- Procedure For filing Unethical or Unprofessional Conduct Grievances:
F-1 Any member who has cause to complain that a member of GAPPS has violated a provision of the By-laws or Code of Ethics may submit to the Chairperson a written complaint containing sufficient particulars of the grievance along with all supporting documentation.
F-2 The Chairperson may appoint a neutral third party who will attempt to resolve the dispute of the parties. This third party shall maintain a written record and attach the record to the complaint file along with any resolution of the dispute. If the matter cannot be resolved, and the issues raised are unique in nature, the matter shall be submitted directly to the Board. Otherwise, the grievance procedure shall continue as outlined in Section G of this Policy Manual.
- Procedure For All Grievances After Submission to Chairperson
G-1 The Chairperson will send a copy of the grievance to the Respondent by reliable means. The Respondent must reply in writing, together with all supporting documentation to the Chairperson. The reply must be received within fourteen (14) days from the date of the Chairperson’s letter containing the complaint, or within such additional time as the Chairperson, in his/her discretion may grant for good cause shown. If no reply is received, Respondent is then in violation of Policy 4, Section L.
G-2 The Chairperson shall send a copy of the reply to the Complainant.
G-3 The complainant may offer a rebuttal to the Chairperson. The rebuttal must be received by the Chairperson within fourteen (14) days from the date of the Chairperson’s letter to the Complainant containing the Respondent’s reply.
G-4 Should the Respondent fail to respond as required under Policy 4, Section G-1, the Chairperson shall submit the matter to the Board of Directors.
H-1 After all procedures have been followed as prescribed in Policy 4, Section G, the Chairperson shall submit the matter to binding arbitration before a panel of three (3) members selected by the Chairperson.
H-2 If the dispute is monetary, the Chairperson may determine the amount of any funds to be deposited by the parties with the Administrator.
H-3(a) The Chairperson shall provide each member of the panel with a copy of all pleadings.
H-3(b) The panel shall make a ruling on this written record but shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to request from the parties additional materials, clarification or supplemental information.
H-3(c) The panel shall render a majority written decision on the merits of the dispute and a separate majority written decision on proposed sanction, if any, and send the written decision(s) together with any dissents to the parties.
H-4(a) Either party may appeal the decision(s) of the grievance panel by filing within fourteen (14) days written notice of the decision(s) of the panel, a written appeal with the Chairperson together with a statement of the reasons supporting the appeal. If the dispute is monetary, the Chairperson shall determine the amount of any funds to be deposited by the Appealing Party with the Administrator.
H-4(b) The Chairperson shall notify the President of any appeal filed.
H-4(c) If an appeal is filed, the decision(s) of the grievance panel is stayed pending resolution of the appeal.
H-4(d) If such appeal is not filed timely, the decision(s) of the panel shall be final; however, the Board at its option may accept a late appeal.
H-4(e) The Chairperson shall submit the appeal and all documentation to the Board at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting for a ruling, which ruling shall be deemed final and not subject to further appeal.
H-5 Upon notification of the outcome by the Chairperson, The Treasurer shall make the necessary disbursement of any funds held in escrow.
- Retention of Complaints
I-1 All matters submitted to the Arbitration & Grievance Committee shall remain confidential.
I-2 Once a matter has been resolved or disposed of, the Chairperson shall forward the file to the Administrator for retention.
I-3 The Chairperson shall retain, for a period of three (3) years, a listing and disposition of each matter submitted to the Arbitration & Grievance Committee.
- Consistent Pattern of Complaints:
J-1 Where a number of complaints filed against a member indicates a persistent pattern of nonpayment or unethical/unprofessional conduct, the Chairperson shall notify such member, in writing, that a continuance of similar complaints received by the Committee may result in reprimand, suspension, or expulsion. The member shall have fourteen (14) days from the date of the Chairperson’s letter to respond to the charge.
J-2 Where a number of complaints submitted by a member indicates a persistent pattern of filing nonpayment or unethical/unprofessional conduct complaints which are frivolous or without substance, the Chairperson shall notify such member in writing, of such finding and that such continued action by the member may result in disciplinary action by the Board. The member shall have fourteen (14) days from the date of the Chairperson’s letter to respond to the charge.
J-3 If, after notification by the Chairperson, the persistent pattern of nonpayment or unprofessional or unethical conduct by a member continues, or the member persists in filing complaints which are frivolous or without real substance, the Chairperson shall refer the matter to the Board for disposition. The Board, at its discretion, will determine what constitutes a persistent pattern and may take whatever disciplinary action it deems appropriate. The Board will notify the Chairperson and the Chairperson will in turn notify the member, in writing, of the action taken.
- If membership is revoked, the ex-member shall not be eligible to re-apply for membership for a period of one (1) year from the date of the Chairperson’s letter notifying the member that his/her membership has been revoked.
- Failure to comply with the by-laws of this Association, or the procedures as outlined in this policy manual, or the rulings and decisions of the Arbitration Panel or Board shall constitute sufficient grounds for suspension, expulsion, or any sanction the Board deems appropriate.
- The purpose of this Policy is to insure that every member is treated fairly and justly. To this end, the Board shall have the authority, by majority vote, to take that action necessary to carry out the purpose of the Policy, including but not limited to, the granting of extensions of time and reconsideration of actions taken.
Policy No. 5 – Association Property, Financial Obligations & Committees
No Officer, Director or member shall obligate the Association in any way whatsoever without the prior approval of the Board of Directors. Certain recurring expenditures, such as training expenses or annual conference expenses, may be approved by the Board in advance.
Request for reimbursement must be made within 30 days of the occurrence of the expense. Approved expenses will be reimbursed within 2 weeks after submission of an expense reimbursement form with accompanying receipts and documentation.
- Training Materials
Reproduction of Course Materials – The GAPPS course materials, and any of the materials it contains, may not be copied, in whole or in part, or sold, loaned, gifted or otherwise distributed to any other person or company without expressed written consent of the Education Committee Chairperson.
- Bank Accounts
Bank accounts may be established upon written approval of the President and Treasurer, in which action shall be reported to the Board at its next meeting.
The authorized person to sign on all association back accounts shall include the Treasurer and at least one other officer agreed on by the Board. All checks over $500 shall require 2 authorized signatures.
In the event that the Association employs the services of an Administrator, such person may perform some of the duties specifically stated in the Bylaws as the responsibility of the Secretary or Treasurer.
Policy No. 6 – Social Media and Online Marketing
The Vice President shall be responsible for the Social Media Committee. All posts (communications) shall be approved by both the Vice President and Administrator before being posted to the GAPPS website, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media accounts.
This committee will be responsible for auditing membership list on the website to make sure those with the “Certified” badge are still listed as Certified Process Server on the Georgia Sheriff’s Association (GSA) website.
Policy No. 7 – Standards & Best Practices
- Purpose – The purpose of this section is to outline the essential elements and best methods that GAPPS has determined are ideal to promote professionalism within the process service profession. These standards and best practices enable the professional process server to fulfill their obligations as a process server while at the same time protecting the due process rights of persons affected by our service.
- Education – Education is an essential element of the professional process server. Keeping track of any changes or updates to Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure is a key to providing quality service for your clients and guarding the rights of the defendants.
- Professionalism – Our role within the legal process is critical. Attorneys, other process servers, or pro se clients expect that the service will be effected efficiently and according to state statutes and Rules of Civil Procedure. It is important for process servers to maintain a professional attitude to demonstrate to clients that they take their role within the legal community seriously.
C-1 Be Responsive – Return calls and emails quickly and with good etiquette.
C-2 Maintain good organizational practices – maintain accurate records, keep a calendar of any appointments. Your attention to detail should be obvious in all of your business dealings.
C-3 Manners – Show respect to others by being professional when serving process and speaking with clients. Using good manners while communicating, is essential to promoting process serving professionalism.
Policy No. 8 – Records Request
GAPPS is incorporated in Georgia. Georgia law governs what records a member may inspect and copy, the notice required, and the restrictions an association may place on the member’s requests. O.C.G.A. 14-2 -1602 is the applicable statute that will govern a request for records.