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How do I Subpoena Documents?

Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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When a person subpoenas documents, he legally requests documents for use in a court proceeding. The steps required for obtaining a subpoena may vary, depending on the jurisdiction, court, and type of document in question. For example, some types of records may be harder to secure because they are protected under confidentiality laws. As such, the first step for a person who wants to subpoena documents may be contacting the court in which his case will be heard for information about the process. Additionally, seeking an attorney’s help may make the process easier.

In general, a person who wants to subpoena documents visits the court in which his case will be heard and asks for a subpoena form. He’ll then have to complete the form, providing such information as the case number and the names of all the parties involved in the case. Though the subpoena may be directed at only one of the parties, all of the parties involved in a legal proceeding typically have the right to receive a copy of it.

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An individual who wants to subpoena documents also has to list or describe the documents he is requesting, being as specific as possible. In some places, it may be possible to simply request all of the records relevant to the matter rather than listing specific documents. This may not be the case in some places, however, and such language also leaves it up to the receiver to determine what is relevant. In such a case, he may not produce all of the documents the requester needs.

Once the subpoena form is completed, the requester usually signs it and has it notarized. Then, the person who is seeking the documents usually makes a copy to file in his records as well as one or more copies for others involved in the case. Making an extra just-in-case copy is often part of this process as well. The notarized copy is usually filed with the appropriate court.

After filing a notarized subpoena form with the court clerk, a person who needs to subpoena documents usually has to arrange to have the subpoena served to the receiver. Often, this involves arranging service by a process server or the local sheriff’s office. Usually, the requester pays a fee for this service.

It’s important to note that handling legal documents and procedures can be a challenge, especially for those who are new to the workings of their legal system. In most cases, court clerks are not permitted to provide legal advice. When help is needed, a person may turn to a do-it-yourself law book, an attorney, a legal help website, or a legal aid program.

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