Lawyers: Can you refuse ex parte notice?

I was having a conversation with Marc W. Matheny, a sole practitioner in Indiana, today. And the conversation turned to voice mail messages.

The message I’ve heard a number of lawyers leave on their machines says that they do not accept ex parte notices on this line. I had never thought about this before, but I pose the following question for your consideration:  How is it that you can refuse to be served? If you were personally served with a summons and complaint, can you refuse to accept service? During my 25 years as a practicing lawyer, I can’t remember an instance when refusal was permitted. I admit that it’s been awhile since I practiced, perhaps the rules have changed.

If your phone number is your normal business contact point, and if phone service for ex parte matters is acceptable in your jurisdiction, how can you tell the other party that you refuse to accept service just because youir answering machine is on?

This poses an interesting question for me … and one I suggest lawyers address with their local court rules before relying on the sufficiency of the voice mail statement concerning service. At the very best, you will be fighting a battle about the sufficiency of the service rather than the merits of the matter … and this is usually not productive either for the lawyer or the client.


Categorized in: