I Just Received a Subpoena for a Case I’m not a Party to. What do I do now?
Receiving a subpoena for a lawsuit that you are not involved with might seem unpleasant or even burdensome. There are certain steps you can take, however, to help protect your rights and ensure that responding to a subpoena goes smoothly.
The first question you may have when receiving a subpoena is: do I need a lawyer to respond to this? You are not obligated to hire a lawyer to respond to a subpoena on your behalf. However, it is often a good idea to do so, particularly in situations where the subpoena requests a high volume of material, where the subpoena requests you to appear at a deposition, or where the type of information sought by the subpoena raises particular concerns, such as confidentiality.
If you decide to respond to a subpoena without counsel, you should read it carefully in order to understand what you are being asked to do. Some subpoenas seek production of documents, some subpoenas seek your appearance at a deposition or trial, and some seek both. If a subpoena seeks production of documents, you should carefully read the requests and any instructions provided with them.
You should also make sure you understand the deadline by which you have to produce documents, or the date on which your deposition has been scheduled. If you feel that you cannot respond by or appear on that date, you should promptly contact the attorney identified on the subpoena. Most attorneys will work with you to select a new date that is more agreeable for your schedule.
If you object to the information sought by a subpoena (for example, if the subpoena seeks a very large amount of documents that will be burdensome to produce), you should send a written objection to the law firm that issued the subpoena. The time period for objecting to a subpoena varies depending on whether the case is pending in state or federal court. If you anticipate objecting to a subpoena, you may want to contact an attorney to assist you with that process.
Importantly, do not ignore a subpoena that you receive, as doing so can result in a court holding you in contempt.
-By Stephanie Parker