Service of Process
Summons, Complaint and Warrant of Arrest In Rem
A warrant of arrest in rem may be
initiated either by a private party or by a federal agency. Where
initiated by a private party, the warrant is issued to enforce a
maritime lien against a particular vessel or cargo. Where initiated by a
federal agency, the warrant is issued to enforce a forfeiture pursuant
to a federal statute. When the forfeiture action is against real
property, a notice of the complaint will be posted in lieu of serving a
warrant of arrest in rem.
Maritime Actions: In rem warrants or notice of the
complaint may be executed only within the district of issuance, with the
exception of the concurrent jurisdiction between the Eastern and
Southern districts of New York [28
USC 112 (b) and (c)].
A forfeiture action may be instituted either
in the district in which the property was located at the time of seizure
or in the district to which the property was moved for storage after
seizure. In addition, in forfeiture actions under the Controlled
Substances Act [21
USC 881 (j)], the action may be brought in the district where the
person whose actions gave rise to the forfeiture is located. In the
latter case, the warrant of arrest in rem or notice of the
complaint is forwarded to the district where the property is located for
A warrant of arrest in rem or notice of the
complaint is issued by the Clerk of the U.S. District Court. The warrant
or notice of the complaint is issued under Rule C, Supplemental Rules
for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, pursuant to a complaint for
forfeiture brought by the U.S. Attorney, in a case brought by the
federal government, or in a private matter, pursuant to a complaint by a
private litigant. The summons directs the party to be served (owner or
other interested party) to answer the complaint.
In all actions (except forfeiture actions
where the original seizure was made by the Department of Homeland
Security or complaint for forfeiture originated with the Department of
Homeland Security), the warrant in rem or notice of the complaint
is executed by a U.S. Marshal or Deputy U.S. Marshal. In forfeiture
actions where the original seizure was made by the Department of
Homeland Security or complaint for forfeiture originated with the
Department of Homeland Security, the warrant in rem or notice of
the complaint may be executed by a U.S. Customs agent.
Manner of Service:
The complaint and warrant are posted on the
property by the U.S. Marshal, Deputy U.S. Marshal, or, in Homeland
Security cases only, by a Homeland Security officer. Unless otherwise
specified, service of the complaint and warrant may be accomplished by
certified mail to the party(ies) identified on the documentation.
Return will be made by means of a U.S.
marshals Service Form-285, recording any action taken pursuant to the
instructions contained on the form.
Note: The information related to the service of
court process that is contained on this web site is general information
and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive explanation or depiction
of Federal rules of procedures for the service of process.
Readers are directed to the Federal Rules of Criminal and
Civil Procedure; personal legal counsel; the United States Code, Titles 18 and 28;
U.S. Attorney's Office and District Court for
specific, authoritative guidance.