General Information

The Civil Process Unit is a sub-division of the Supports Services Division of the Dane County Sheriff's Office. The unit is comprised of a small clerical staff and eight uniformed deputies, (two for Evictions/Executions and six assigned to serve legal papers within the City of Madison and throughout Dane County). The primary function of the civil process unit is the "service of process."

Civil process is defined as "the writ or mandate that serves as the means used for bringing a defendant to court to answer in an action or proceeding, civil or criminal." It is the responsibility of the sheriff's department to serve or execute according to law, all processes, writs, precepts, and orders issued or made by lawful authority according to Wisconsin State Statute 59.27 (4).

In a broader sense, any writ, order, notice, summons, subpoena or other document by which a court exercises its jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of any action or proceeding, is called a process. The Dane County Sheriff's Office serves an average of sixteen thousand process papers a year along with posting notices throughout the county for foreclosed property.

Only papers to be served within Dane County will be accepted for service; (exception being a copy of a restraining order (TRO) or injunction to be served out of county if filed in Dane County; copy needs to be entered and filed in the Dane County Communication Center (911). Service of papers is generally attempted the next business day after received by our office.

It may take a day or two longer depending on the backlog of documents received for the first attempt to be made and anywhere from several days to several weeks to process after service is completed (also depending on the backlog). If you do not receive your papers back within a week of our office receiving them, please contact us to find out the status of your paper.