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Complying With a Subpoena

As a business owner, your business could be served with a subpoena demanding that you turn over certain documents, which is referred to as a subpoena duces tecum. As soon as you are provided with a subpoena, you should immediately contact Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP so that we can guide you and protect you in complying with a subpoena.

A subpoena is a court order. However, that does not automatically mean that you must comply with the subpoena. Generally, you should only comply with a lawful subpoena. Therefore, it must be properly served upon your business. For example, receiving a subpoena via facsimile is not lawful service. In addition, for a subpoena duces tecum, your business is allowed to request compensation to comply with a subpoena. The person issuing the subpoena is obligated under the rules of court to arrange for reasonable compensation to your business before your business is required to comply with a subpoena. Moreover, the request for documents must comply with other laws. For example, if you are subpoenaing a business that is subject to health care privacy laws, such as a chiropractor or a therapist, there are very specific state and federal laws – and the professional’s ethical obligations – that your business must comply with or your business is in violation of the law. In other words, a subpoena does not trump your obligation to comply with laws specific to your business.

Responding to a subpoena without the advice and guidance of an experienced business and litigation attorney could have direct consequences to your business and potentially those that it employs. For example, if you have patient-client medical confidentiality, and if your business complies with a subpoena that is not making lawful demands on you, then your business breached patient-client confidentiality. It is not the issuer of the subpoena’s responsibility to make certain that you are complying with the law with respect to the request for documents. It is your obligation to make certain that you are complying with the law. If the issuer of the subpoena does not comply with the law, you must use the remedies allowed under the rules of civil procedure to properly make your objections to the subpoena. If you do not properly make your objections to the subpoena, then it may be deemed by a court that you violated the subpoena.

Proceed cautiously when being served with a subpoena. You have limited time generally to respond. Your response must be lawful even if the subpoena’s request for documents is unlawful.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.