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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of February 26, 2020

Title 32Subtitle AChapter VISubchapter CPart 720Subpart B → §720.20


Title 32: National Defense
PART 720—DELIVERY OF PERSONNEL; SERVICE OF PROCESS AND SUBPOENAS; PRODUCTION OF OFFICIAL RECORDS
Subpart B—Service of Process and Subpoenas Upon Personnel


§720.20   Service of process upon personnel.

(a) General. Commanding officers afloat and ashore may permit service of process of Federal or State courts upon members, civilian employees, dependents, or contractors residing at or located on a naval installation, if located within their commands. Service will not be made within the command without the commanding officer's consent. The intent of this provision is to protect against interference with mission accomplishment and to preserve good order and discipline, while not unnecessarily impeding the court's work. Where practical, the commanding officer shall require that the process be served in his presence, or in the presence of a designated officer. In all cases, individuals will be advised to seek legal counsel, either from a legal assistance attorney or from personal counsel for service in personal matters, and from Government counsel for service in official matters. The commanding officer is not required to act as a process server. The action required depends in part on the status of the individual requested and which State issued the process.

(1) In-State process. When a process server from a State or Federal court from the jurisdiction where the naval station is located requests permission to serve process aboard an installation, the command ordinarily should not prevent service of process so long as delivery is made in accordance with reasonable command regulations and is consistent with good order and discipline. Withholding service may be justified only in the rare case when the individual sought is located in an area under exclusive Federal jurisdiction not subject to any reservation by the State of the right to serve process. Questions on the extent of jurisdiction should be referred to the staff judge advocate, command counsel, or local naval legal service office. If service is permitted, an appropriate location should be designated (for example, the command legal office) where the process server and the member or employee can meet privately in order that process may be served away from the workplace. A member may be directed to report to the designated location. A civilian may be invited to the designated location. If the civilian does not cooperate, the process server may be escorted to the location of the civilian in order that process may be served. A civilian may be required to leave a classified area in order that the process server may have access to the civilian. If unusual circumstances require that the command not permit service, see §720.20(e).

(2) Out-of-State process. In those cases where the process is to be served by authority of a jurisdiction other than that where the command is located, the person named is not required to accept process. Accordingly, the process server from the out-of-State jurisdiction need not be brought face-to-face with the person named in the process. Rather, the process server should report to the designated command location while the person named is contacted, apprised of the situation, and advised that he may accept service, but also may refuse. In the event that the person named refuses service, the process server should be so notified. If service of process is attempted from out-of-State by mail and refused, the refusal should be noted and the documents returned to the sender. Questions should be referred to the staff judge advocate, command counsel, or the local naval legal service office.

(b) Service of process arising from official duties. (1) Whenever a member or civilian employee of the Department of the Navy is served with process because of his official position, the Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate, shall be notified by telephone, or by message if telephone is impractical. Notification shall be confirmed by a letter report by the nearest appropriate command. The letter report shall include the detailed facts which give rise to the action.

(2) Any member or civilian employee served with Federal or State court civil or criminal process or pleadings (including traffic tickets) arising from actions performed in the course of official duties shall immediately deliver all such process and pleadings to the commanding officer. The commanding officer shall ascertain the pertinent facts and notify the Judge Advocate General or Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate, by telephone or by message if telephone is impractical, of the service and immediately forward the pleadings and process to the relevant office. The member or civilian employee will be advised of the right to remove civil or criminal proceedings from State to Federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442, 1442a, rights under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act (28 U.S.C. 2679b), if applicable, and the right of a Federal employee to request representation by Department of Justice attorneys in Federal (civil) or State (civil or criminal) proceedings and in congressional proceedings in which that person is sued in an individual capacity, as delineated in 28 CFR 50.15. Requests for representation shall be addressed to the Judge Advocate General or Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate, and shall be endorsed by the commanding officer, who shall provide all necessary data relating to the questions of whether the person was acting within the course of official duty or scope of employment at the time of the incident out of which the suit arose.

(3) If the service of process involves a potential claim against the Government, see 32 CFR 750.12(a), 750.12(b), and 750.24. The right to remove to Federal Court under 28 U.S.C. 1442 and 1442a must be considered where the outcome of the State court action may influence a claim or potential claim against the United States. Questions should be directed to the Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation).

(c) Service of process of foreign courts. (1) Usually, the amenability of members, civilian employees, and their dependents stationed in a foreign country, to the service of process from courts of the host country will have been settled by an agreement between the United States and the foreign country concerned (for example, in the countries of the signatory parties, amenability to service of civil process is governed by paragraphs 5(g) and 9 of Article VIII of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, TIAS 2846). When service of process on a person described above is attempted within the command in a country in which the United States has no agreement on this subject, advice should be sought from the Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate. When service of process is upon the United States Government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities as the named defendant, the doctrine of sovereign immunity may allow the service of process to be returned to the court through diplomatic channels. Service of process directed to an official of the United States, on the other hand, must always be processed in accordance with the applicable international agreement or treaty, regardless of whether the suit involves acts performed in the course of official duties. The Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate, will arrange through the Department of Justice for defense of the suit against the United States or an official acting within the scope of official duties, or make other arrangements, and will issue instructions.

(2) Usually, the persons described in §720.20(c)(1) are not required to accept service of process outside the geographic limits of the jurisdiction of the court from which the process issued. In such cases, acceptance of the service is not compulsory, but service may be voluntarily accepted in accordance with §720.20(b). In exceptional cases when the United States has agreed that service of process will be accepted by such persons when located outside the geographic limits of the jurisdiction of the court from which the process issued, the provisions of the agreement and of §720.20(a) will govern.

(3) Under the laws of some countries (such as Sweden), service of process is effected by the document, in original or certified copy, being handed to the person for whom the service is intended. Service is considered to have taken place even if the person refuses to accept the legal documents. Therefore, if a commanding officer or other officer in the military service personally hands, or attempts to hand, that person the document, service is considered to have been effected, permitting the court to proceed to judgment. Upon receipt of foreign process with a request that it be served upon a person described in §720.20(c)(1), a commanding officer shall notify the person of the fact that a particular foreign court is attempting to serve process and also inform that person that the process may be ignored or received. If the person to be served chooses to ignore the service, the commanding officer will return the document to the embassy or consulate of the foreign country with the notation that the commanding officer had the document, that the person chose to ignore it, and that no physical offer of service had been made. The commanding officer will advise the Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate, of all requests for service of process from a foreign court and the details thereof.

(d) Leave or liberty to be granted persons served with process. When members or civilian employees are either served with process, or voluntarily accept service of process, in cases where the United States is not a party to the litigation, the commanding officer normally will grant leave or liberty to the person served to permit compliance with the process, unless to do so would have an adverse impact on naval operations. When a member or civilian employee is a witness for a nongovernmental party because of performance of official duties, the commanding officer may issue the person concerned permissive orders authorizing attendance at the trail at no expense to the Government. The provisions of 32 CFR part 725 must also be considered in such cases. Members or civilian employees may accept allowances and mileage tendered; however, any fees tendered for testimony must be paid to the Department of the Navy unless the member or employee is on authorized leave while attending the judicial proceeding. When it would be in the best interests of the United States Government (for example, in State criminal trails), travel funds may be used to provide members and civilian employees as witnesses as provided in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations. Responsibility for the payment of the member's mileage and allowances will be determined pursuant to the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, Volume 1, paragraph M6300, subsections 1-3.3

3See footnote 1 of §720.5(b).

(e) Report where service not allowed. Where service of process is not permitted, or where the member or civilian employee is not given leave, liberty, or orders to attend a judicial proceeding, a report of such refusal and the reasons therefor shall be made by telephone, or message if telephone is impractical, to the Judge Advocate General or the Associate General Counsel (Litigation), as appropriate.

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