How to Subpoena Out of State

March 7, 2024

Serving a subpoena out of state involves obtaining evidence, documents, or testimony from another state for your legal case. To properly serve a subpoena out of state, you need to understand and adhere to the legal requirements and procedures of both the state where your case is filed and the state where you need the evidence or testimony. Since the subpoena service rules differ in different states, it takes experience and legal expertise to stay compliant throughout the process.

At On-Call Legal, our experienced nationwide process servers will help you prepare and serve subpoenas nationwide within 24 hours or less. Our licensed process servers are not only committed to following the rules associated with out-of-state subpoena service; they’re also deeply knowledgeable about the legal landscape. Book a free consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you!

This comprehensive guide provides a step-by-step guide on how to serve an out-of-state subpoena under the UIDDA as well as pro tips to help you stay compliant.

The Legal Framework for Out-of-State Subpoenas

The Legal Framework for Out-of-State Subpoenas

The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA) harmonizes with the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 to create a straightforward system for lawyers to follow when they need to get an out-of-state witness testimony or documents from different states for civil or criminal proceedings. This act is particularly beneficial in civil lawsuits where gathering evidence from multiple jurisdictions is common.

Before the UIDDA, each state had its own set of complex rules governing how attorneys should issue and enforce out-of-state subpoenas. Most times, lawyers had to hire a local attorney in the other state to get what they needed, resulting in a complex and time-consuming process.

Developed by the Uniform Law Commission, the UIDDA was introduced in 2007 and has been adopted by most states in the U.S. including California, Alaska, Illinois, New York, New Mexico, and others. Despite the widespread adoption of the UIDDA in the United States, a few states have not implemented the act. In these states, attorneys must follow more traditional and potentially more stressful processes to subpoena evidence or witnesses from these jurisdictions. Examples of such states include Missouri and Massachusetts.

8 Steps on How to Issue an Out-of-State Subpoena Under UIDDA

8 Steps on How to Issue an Out-of-State Subpoena Under UIDDA

Preparing to issue a subpoena under the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act involves a sequence of steps necessary to ensure compliance with both the issuing and discovery states.

The process starts in the “home state” court where the legal case is filed. Here, an attorney can issue a subpoena directly under the authority of the home state’s court system. This subpoena specifies the nature of the documents, testimony, or evidence required. The attorney or party then takes this subpoena to the “destination state” where the witness resides or the evidence is located.

The local court clerk in the destination state reviews the subpoena from the home state and issues a new subpoena that conforms to the local jurisdiction’s requirements. This process is known as “domesticating” the subpoena. The new subpoena carries the weight of the destination state’s legal authority, ensuring compliance by the party from whom evidence is sought.

1. Confirm UIDDA Adoption

Before starting, verify that both the state where your case is filed (issuing state) and the state from where you seek evidence (discovery state) have adopted the UIDDA. This information can typically be found through a simple online search or by contacting a court clerk in the discovery state.

2. Prepare Your Subpoena

Draft a subpoena according to the rules of the issuing state court. Be sure to include all the necessary information, such as the names of the parties involved, the case number, the trial court in which the case is filed, and detailed information about the testimony or documents required. Also, ensure that the subpoena complies with any specific requirements of the issuing state, including format and content.

3. Contact the Court Clerk in the Discovery State

It’s important to find the appropriate court in the discovery state where the subpoena will be domesticated. This is usually a court in the county where the evidence or witness is located. Contact the court clerk to inquire about any specific procedures, forms, fees, or requirements for submitting an out-of-state subpoena under the UIDDA. Find out how the subpoena needs to be presented and any accompanying documentation.

4. Complete Required Forms

Some states may require a specific form or application to accompany the subpoena from the issuing state. Complete any necessary paperwork as directed by the clerk of the court in the discovery state. Prepare a draft subpoena that complies with the formatting and content requirements of the discovery state. The local court clerk will use the draft to issue a local subpoena.

5. Submit the Subpoena and Forms

Submit the original subpoena, any completed forms or applications, and the draft subpoena for the discovery state to the identified court. You can send the subpoena via mail, electronically, or in-person service, depending on the court’s policies. Include any necessary payment for filing or processing fees as instructed by the court clerk.

6. Get the Domesticated Subpoena

The court in the discovery state will review your submission and, if everything is in order, issue a domesticated subpoena that is valid within its jurisdiction. Make sure that the domesticated subpoena accurately reflects the original subpoena’s demands and complies with local rules.

7. Serve the Subpoena

Serve the domesticated subpoena to the intended recipient following the discovery state’s rules for service. The best way to stay compliant here is by hiring a professional process server or sheriff in the discovery state.

8. Address Compliance or Objections

The recipient of the subpoena may comply, object, or move to quash the subpoena. Be ready to address any legal objections through the court in the discovery state. In such cases, you may need to engage in legal proceedings in the target state, which could require hiring local counsel.

What Do You Need to Do After Issuing the Subpoena?

What Do You Need to Do After Issuing the Subpoena?

Even after delivering an out-of-state subpoena, there are a series of measures you should take to be certain that the subpoena is valid and produces the required details.

Firstly, you need to verify that the subpoena was served correctly according to the destination state’s laws. You can get an affidavit of service from the process server, which is a document confirming that the subpoena was delivered to the correct party on a specific date and time.

Secondly, pay close attention to the deadlines by which the subpoenaed party is required to respond or comply. These deadlines vary by jurisdiction and are typically specified in the subpoena itself. If the deadline is approaching and you have not received the requested documents or confirmation of compliance, consider reaching out to the subpoenaed party or their attorney to remind them of their obligations. If possible, maintain communication with the party served to ensure they understand the subpoena’s requirements and the consequences of non-compliance.

If the recipient raises objections or a motion to quash, consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action. You might have to modify the subpoena’s demands, negotiate with them, or appear in court to argue why the subpoena should be enforced.

If the subpoenaed party fails to comply with the subpoena, you may need to file a motion with the court seeking enforcement. The court can then order the party to comply or face penalties, such as fines or contempt charges. Especially in cases involving the UIDDA, where the subpoenaed party is in another state, consider hiring local counsel familiar with the jurisdiction’s enforcement mechanisms.

Once you receive the documents or testimony requested, review them thoroughly to determine how they impact your case. Then organize and store the obtained evidence. Ensure that sensitive or confidential information is handled according to legal requirements and ethical considerations.

If the subpoena is for a deposition, coordinate with all parties to schedule the deposition. Prepare your questions and strategy in advance to make the most of the testimony. Make sure that the deposition is properly recorded and transcribed, as required by the rules of the jurisdiction and the specifics of your case.

Document every step of the subpoena process, including communications, service of process, responses, objections, and court filings. These records can be important if there are disputes about compliance or the process itself.

Common Challenges Associated With Issuing Out-of-State Subpoena

Common Challenges Associated With Issuing Out-of-State Subpoena

1. Difference in State Laws and Procedures

Even with the UIDDA’s attempt to standardize the process, each state has its own set of rules and procedures for handling subpoenas. This can lead to confusion and delays if the issuing party is not familiar with the specific requirements of the state where the subpoena is being served. In some instances, You may need to obtain local counsel to file the subpoena with the local court or handle objections and motions to quash.

2. Difficulty in Serving the Subpoena

Each state has specific rules regarding who is authorized to serve the subpoena and how you must document proof of service. In some cases, finding the person or entity to be subpoenaed, especially if they are evasive, can make the process more difficult.

3. Dealing with Objections and Motions to Quash

The recipient of a subpoena may file objections or a motion to quash the subpoena if they think it is overly broad, burdensome, or violates their rights in some way. Sometimes, you may require additional motions and potential court hearings to address these issues, complicating the timeline and increasing costs. Also, when a subpoena requests sensitive or confidential information, the subpoenaed party may object on privacy grounds. In such cases, you may need negotiations or court intervention to balance the need for information with privacy rights.

4. Cost and Time

The costs associated with issuing out-of-state subpoenas can accumulate, including filing fees, process server fees, and potentially the costs of hiring local counsel. Also, the process of issuing, serving, and enforcing an out-of-state subpoena can introduce significant delays in the timeline of a legal case, impacting case strategy and resolution.

8 Tips for Successfully Serving Out-of-State Subpoena

8 Tips for Successfully Serving Out-of-State Subpoena

Successfully subpoenaing out of state, especially under the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA), requires careful planning and federal attention to detail. Below are some tips to help you:

  1. Do your due diligence: If both the issuing state and the discovery state have adopted the UIDDA, familiarize yourself with its procedures to make the subpoena process easier. For non-UIDDA states with their own rules, research the specific requirements for the discovery state. Also, ensure your subpoena meets the formatting and content requirements of the discovery state to avoid rejection or delays.
  2. Prepare a clear and specific subpoena: Your legal document should specify the exact documents or testimony you’re requesting. The recipient may have legal grounds to challenge the subpoena if the requests are vague.
  3. Hire professional process servers: Use experienced process servers familiar with the local rules of the discovery state to ensure the subpoena is served correctly and legally. Moreover, obtain and show proof of service from the process server as evidence that the subpoena was properly served.
  4. Consider hiring local legal professionals: A local attorney can provide assistance in handling the discovery state’s legal system, including filing motions and responding to objections. Should any issues arise requiring court hearings, a local attorney can represent your interests effectively.
  5. Monitor compliance and follow-up: Keep track of compliance deadlines and follow up promptly if the subpoenaed party fails to respond or provides incomplete information. Know the procedures for enforcing subpoena compliance in the discovery state and be prepared to take legal action if necessary.
  6. Draw an Appropriate Budget: Calculate the costs involved in the process, including process server fees, potential attorney fees for local counsel, witness fees, and any court costs. Weigh the importance and potential impact of the subpoenaed information against the costs and time involved in obtaining it.
  7. Maintain Communication: Keep open lines of communication with the subpoenaed party, their attorney, and your process server. Effective communication can often resolve issues more quickly than legal actions.
  8. Keep Detailed Records: Maintain a record of all communications, submissions, court filings, and responses related to the subpoena. Documentation is vital, especially if compliance is contested or enforcement actions are necessary.

Need a Professional Process Server?

Issuing a subpoena out of state requires some level of experience and expertise. Although the Uniform Law Commission introduced the UIDDA to standardize the process, you still need to understand the subpoena service rules in each state to stay compliant. To avoid incorrect service of process, it’s best to hire a professional process server who understands the service requirements in the discovery state.

On-Call Legal is the preferred process server for attorneys in California. We’re committed to making the process smooth and compliant for you. We understand how important time is to your case; that’s why we offer same-day delivery to be sure your subpoena gets to the recipient nationwide without wasting time. Book a free call with us today to get started.

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