4 Rev. Litig. 299 (1983-1985)
The New Federal Express: Mail Service of Process under Amended Rule 4

handle is hein.journals/rol4 and id is 305 raw text is: The New Federal Express: Mail Service of
Process Under Amended Rule 4
Linda S. Mullenix*
Prior to the Congressional amendment of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 4, service-of-process for complaints filed in fed-
eral court was a relatively uncomplicated affair, usually accom-
plished by the United States Marshals Service. Not only was the
litigant relieved of the mechanical aspects of serving process, but
old rule 4 gave the plaintiff virtually unlimited time in which to
perfect notice to his adversary.'
As most federal practitioners are aware, the rule 4 amend-
ments, effective February 26, 1983, enacted two radical changes
in federal service-of-process.2 The first major change was calcu-
* Assistant Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of
America; Visiting Professor of Law (1983-84); Visiting Professor of Law, Loyola Law
School of Los Angeles (1982-83), Clinical Professor (1981-82); Assistant Professor,
School ofJustice, American University (1979). B.A., City College of New York, 1971; M.
Phil., Columbia University, 1974; Ph.D., Columbia University, 1977; J.D., Georgetown
University Law Center, 1980.
1. The 120-day limit contained in the present rule 4(j) was a new addition to the
rule, added in 1983 with the other amendments. See Siegel, Practice Commentary on Amend-
ment of Federal Rule 4 (Ef. Feb. 26, 1983) with Special Statute of Limitations Precautions, 96
F.R.D. 88, 101 (1983) [hereinafter cited as Siegel, Practice Commentary]. See also 128
CONG. REC. H9848, H9850 (daily ed. Dec. 15, 1982), reprinted in 1982 U.S. Code Cong.
& Ad. News 4434, 4440 (analysis of H.R. 7154) (Rule 4 does not currently provide a
time limit within which service must be completed. Primarily because United States
Marshals currently effect service of process, no time restriction has been deemed neces-
sary.). H.R. 7154 was subsequently enacted as Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Amendments Act of 1982, Pub. L. No. 97-462, 96 Stat. 2527 (1982) [hereinafter cited as
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Amendments Act of 1982].
2. The amendments to rule 4 became effective on February 26, 1983, although
there was some confusion about this date due to the unusual manner in which rule 4 was
amended. The Supreme Court originally proposed a set of rule 4 amendments which
were sent to Congress on April 28, 1982. These amendments would have taken effect
ninety days later, on August 1, 1982 if Congress took no action. 28 U.S.C.  2072
(1982). However, because there was considerable public criticism of the Court's pro-
posed amendments, Congress enacted a delaying act which postponed the effective date
of the amendments until October 1, 1983. Act of Aug. 2, 1982, Pub. L. No. 97-227, 96
Stat. 246 (1982). Congress then modified the proposed Supreme Court amendments,
which were approved by President Reagan on January 12, 1983. Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure Amendments Act of 1982, supra note 1. Under the terms of the Act, the

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