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Friday, March 22, 2002

And the little Casinos shall lead them... This was a long time coming: on Wednesday the Ninth Circuit endorsed service of process by email once court approval has been obtained, in a case brought by the RIO hotel and casino in Las Vegas. This means that if someone is trying to evade service of a lawsuit and you have their email address, you can legitimately accomplish service by email. The Ninth Circuit found this to be reasonable and in keeping with Consitutional due process: "As noted by the court in New England Merchants [v. Iran Power Gen. & Trans. Co., 495 F. Supp. 73, 80 (S.D.N.Y. 1980)], in granting permission to effect service of process by process via telex on Iranian defendants: 'Courts...cannot be blind to changes and advances in technology. No longer do we live in a world where communications are conducted solely by mail carried by fast sailing clipper...ships. Electronic communication via satellite can and does provide instantaneous transmission of notice and information. No longer must process be mailed to a defendant's door when he can receive complete notice at an electronic terminal inside his very office, even when his door is steel and bolted shut.' 495 F. Supp. at 81. We wholeheartedly agree." Noting that there remain some difficulties in confirming receipt of emails and their attachments, the court stressed that for the time being the validity of email service should be treated on a case-by-case basis: "[W]e leave it to the discretion of the district court to balance the limitations of email service against its benefits in any particular case." Sign of the week that the judicial system is joining the 21st century. (Of course by that time it may be the 22nd.)

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