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Virginia judge asked to approve e-mail service of process

We reported recently on an attempt in Australia to use Facebook for service of process, advising archly, “Don’t try this in Virginia.”  In Northern Virginia, however, attorneys now hope to use e-mail to serve a summons on an elusive witness.

Lawyers for indicted lame duck Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., have asked Alexandria U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III to allow service of process by e-mail to order the globetrotting witness to appear at a deposition.

Fighting bribery charges, Jefferson wants to question one of the four wives of a former Nigerian vice president.  Jefferson’s lawyers hope Jennifer Douglas Abubakar will deny the prosecution’s allegation that Jefferson discussed a possible bribe with her.  The lawyers say Abubakar has not been found at her home in Potomac, Md., or in Nigeria.  They think she is somewhere in Dubai.  We have posted Jefferson’s motion for e-mail service here.

While unusual, service by e-mail may be gaining acceptance.  This blog post by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh discusses a recent New York decision permitting e-mail service.

By Peter Vieth

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