One of the most
important duties of the Sheriff has always been to serve and execute the
various processes issued by and for the Courts of North Carolina. The
Sheriff shares, with other law enforcement agencies in the county and the
state, the responsibility of serving criminal papers such as warrants,
criminal summons, juvenile summons, and orders for arrest. However, for
civil cases and processes, the responsibility is held by the Sheriff alone.
common law advised that "no suit could begin and no process be served
by anyone but the sheriff." Civil process means summons, writs,
subpoenas, orders, executions, claim and delivery of specific property,
domestic violence orders, custody orders, writs of possession, and other
processes issued by the civil courts to assist them in carrying out the
functions assigned to them by our state laws.
of process" is defined as the delivering of the papers to the party or
to a responsible party in person or at the residence of the person being
served. The Civil Division serves an average of 8,500 civil papers per
inquiries the Burke County Sheriff's Office receives relate to disputes of
money amounts less than $4,000.00. The public has many questions concerning
landlord/tenant relationships and the procedures for eviction, non-payment
of bills or money loaned, re-acquiring property now in possession of
another, or other money disputes. These questions are usually rectified by
the complainant filing suit against the offending party.
To begin the
process, the complainant or "plaintiff" must have a magistrate's
summons issued at the Clerk of Court's Office. It is the duty of the
Sheriff to see that the summons is served, giving notice to the defendant
that he is being sued and that a court hearing is scheduled for a certain
date. After the hearing in magistrate's court, a magistrate will enter
judgment and more papers may possibly be issued to enforce the court's
involving more than $4,000.00 but less than $10,000.00 are heard in
District Court and over $10,000.00 are heard in Superior Court. These court
actions begin with a civil summons issued by the Clerk of Court and
delivered to the defendant. Although there are other means of service,
almost all processes are delivered to the Civil Division of the Sheriff's
Office for service.
County Sheriff's Office Civil Division is composed of a Lieutenant,
Sergeant, and three deputies. These officers must be part bloodhound in
locating people who have moved several times since the original bill was
incurred. The job requires computer skills, an ability to deal with people
in a courteous manner, initiative, math skills, and the desire to work hard
to complete the task at hand.