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Out-of-state legal ads target someone specific

Every once in a while in the legal notices, I see one from outside the state of Oregon. In the Dec. 1 paper, for example, there's a legal notice from Georgia. Why would the state of Georgia be printing a legal notice for publication in Jackson County, Oregon?

— Katherine H., Talent

The Dec. 1 legal ad on page D3 that you submitted is what's known as a summons by publication.

You'll typically find such summonses in court cases where an individual can't be personally served by a traditional court summons, typically because the other party doesn't know where the defendant is. As an alternative, many states allow the defendant to be served a summons through an official advertisement printed in a newspaper of "general circulation" where the person is believed to be living.

Years ago, a reporter at Since You Asked headquarters worked in that very department, Katherine, and he can tell you that divorce cases are far simpler when the estranged husband and wife know where to find each other.

In this case, the Barrow County, Georgia, Department of Family and Children Services is seeking to notify a woman named Kimberly Terrell that she needs to attend a hearing regarding parental rights of her 17-year-old son with the initials "J.A.W."

Reasons as to why they believe Ms. Terrell is in Jackson County aren't disclosed in the advertisement, but it all likely stems from a prior known address in the area,  based on how Georgia law's structured.

In the event Ms. Terrell missed the ad in the Dec. 1 edition, or if she happened to overlook it while skimming Tempo activities, the hope is that she'll spot the ad during its four-Friday run through Dec. 22 in the legals section printed in the back of our classifieds.

At the end of the run, staff at the Mail Tribune submit a notarized affidavit of publication, which can be tendered to a judge as proof that officials attempted to reach her.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.