Civil Process


Serving civil process in the proper manner is an extremely important function of the office of the Sheriff.

Without proper service of summons and effective enforcement of court orders, the civil court system would cease to function.

There are usually two parties to a civil lawsuit, plaintiff and defendant. The plaintiff is the party bringing the lawsuit and the defendant is the person or entity the plaintiff is suing.


Donna Lewis


Crawford County Sheriff’s Department


These are questions that people being served civil papers ask on a daily basis. These questions should not be considered legal advice by Corporal Lewis or the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.

  • Do I need an attorney?
    I can’t tell you whether or not to get an attorney, and I can’t suggest an attorney to you. All I can tell you is, if you do not understand the papers you are being served with, or if you think you might feel more at ease talking to an attorney, then you should, although you are not required to.
  • What am I supposed to do?
    Most lawsuit papers have an instruction page with them that tells you what to do. You should read your papers all the way through. Some lawsuit papers will have a pre-set court date listed telling you to be in court on a certain day, time and location.
    One thing I try to get people to understand is that you must send your response to the courts within the time allowed. If you don’t, then the courts will presume that you are not disputing the lawsuit, and a default judgment can be filed against you, giving the other party whatever they are asking for.
  • What is a default judgment?
    It means a judgment without trial where a defendant (you) has failed to file an acknowledgment of service; or failed to file a defense. If you are sued and do not file papers in response to the lawsuit in the prescribed time limit, the plaintiff (person who sued you) can ask the court to enter a judgment against you. A default judgment against you is an automatic loss of the case for you.
  • How do I file an answer with the courts?
    You can file an answer on your own or have your attorney file it for you. The normal time limit for filing a response to a lawsuit is 20 days or sometimes 30 days if the plaintiff is out of state. You normally respond to a lawsuit by filing an answer. An answer is a written statement as to the truth of each of the allegations made in the complaint. Your answer must include the court designation, the name of the parties, and case number in the same manner as noted on the complaint. Your answer must also include your address, telephone number and signature. You must then take your response to the appropriate court clerk and present your response to them for filing. They will stamp the document and return the copy for your records. You are then responsible for mailing a copy of the answer to the opposing party or their stated attorney.

Please Note

This is just the beginning of a lawsuit and you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist you.