The court will begin using FedEx Signature Service to deliver court documents within the next 30 days, Clerk of Courts Deborah Comery said Wednesday.
The court previously used U.S. Postal Service Certified Mail, but Comery said the court is making the switch because it believes service will be improved.
“We want to do the best we can do at the most reasonable price as possible,” Comery said. “That’s the driving force.”
Comery estimated that just 65 percent of the court documents the court sends via the USPS reach the intended recipient on the first attempt. She’s estimating that the switch to FedEx will raise the success rate to 95 percent.
“For us not to use the best service available would not be in the best interest of those the court serves,” Comery said.
A Postal Service spokesman said Thursday that he’d reached out to the Rocky River Municipal Court to discuss its concerns. He also provided the court with information about other Postal Service shipping options, such as Priority Express Mail.
“I honestly have no way of addressing the initial service percentages [the Rocky River Municipal Court] mentioned, but it’s probably moot as it is somewhat similar to comparing apples to oranges,” the spokesman said.
The switch will coincide with a $10 increase in court fees, Comery said. The court currently charges $10 to mail court documents, so the switch to FedEx would mean a $20 fee.
All civil cases will be subject to the fee increase, but only criminal cases that involve the court mailing a summons—which Comery estimated to be 5 percent of criminal cases—will be subject to the increase.
Plaintiffs who file civil cases will be responsible for paying the extra $10, in addition to other court fees, up front. Comery said attorneys who file lawsuits on behalf of their clients would not be affected as long as they charge their clients extra $10 in court fees, too.
For the roughly 5 percent of criminal cases that involve the court mailing a summons, defendants who are found guilty would pay the increased fee. If a defendant is found not guilty the court would foot the bill.
In 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court amended the process for how lawsuits can be served to include mailing by commercial carriers such as UPS or FedEx. Previously, all clerks of courts were required to mail court documents via the USPS.
Comery said Rocky River is among the first municipal courts in the state—if not the first—to switch to a commercial carrier.
The Shaker Heights Municipal Court has had preliminary discussions about switching carriers. Clerk of Courts Steven Tomaszewski said he’d speak with Comery soon to see how the change affects business in Rocky River.
Tomaszewski said the Postal Service’s success rate in delivering certified mail “isn’t as high as we’d like it to be,” and said he’d be interested in exploring other options.
“Anything that would help with our docket, and would help move cases through the court, is something we’d be interested in,” he said.
Other municipal court clerks said they’re pleased with the service they receive through the USPS, and don’t see any reason to consider a switch.
“It’s accurate, and I can track where everything is,” said Raymond J. Wohl, the clerk of courts for the Berea Municipal Court. “It just fine for me.”
Municipal courts in Lakewood, Parma and Bedford all said they’ve had no discussions about switching to FedEx, UPS or another carrier.