Civil process keeps sheriff’s office busy in Webster Co.

When people think of the Webster County sheriff’s department, they might imagine that patrolling the county roads and investigating criminal cases take up the majority of the department’s time.

What most might not realize is that in addition to those duties, the sheriff’s department is also responsible for serving civil papers across the entire county.

Sheriff Jim Stubbs said the department serves papers for many different purposes.

“Basically we serve just about any kind of paper there is,” he said. “From garnishments to evictions to mental papers. There’s a whole laundry list of civil papers that we serve.”

The reason the sheriff’s department handles that process is because many of the papers come through the court system.

“They start there and find their way to service by us,” Stubbs said.

Assisting the department with the civil papers are three civil clerks, including Marcia Vote.

She said in addition to the court system providing papers, ordinary citizens can have them served as well.

“Once we get paperwork, whether it’s from a private individual, the court system or an attorney, we have to enter it in our computer system,” Vote said. “Then we delegate the paperwork to the proper individuals.”

Vote said the department has two civil process servers who handle many of the papers, but sometimes deputies are the ones that have to serve paperwork depending on what matter is involved. Deputies would serve papers such as protective orders, mental health committals and certain court orders.

After serving the papers, the parties involved are billed and a return of service form is provided which states when the paperwork was served. All of that information is then submitted to the Webster County Clerk of Court.

Vote said the civil process takes up most of the responsibilities of the sheriff’s office. This year alone, she said the department has worked on 160 mental transports as of Friday as well as 560 garnishments and 59 sheriff’s sales in process as of Monday.

The process of making sure papers get served is very time-consuming, according to Stubbs.

“It encompasses a lot of what we do and requires a lot of work,” he said. “These things take time and there are steps to everything.”

While the department tries to get papers served and processed in a timely manner, sometimes other circumstances arise that delay the process.

“There are a select few that try to avoid getting served,” Stubbs said. “That doesn’t make our jobs any easier.”

Vote added sometimes service has to be prioritized when other situations arise.

“Some people don’t realize that while we have civil process servers, the deputies have to serve some of the papers,” she said. “If there’s a rollover crash with someone injured or another emergency, that will take priority over a paper.”

Stubbs said sometimes specific types of papers will take priority over others.

“We serve protective orders first,” Stubbs said. “Other papers such as mental health committals will also take priority over something like a bad check or an eviction.”