What Do You Do If You Receive a Subpoena?
by Ashley Carter
Sometimes, you don’t have to be a party in a lawsuit to receive legal documents that you shouldn’t ignore. Sometimes, you may have information that’s relevant to a lawsuit – or someone involved in a lawsuit may want to find out whether or not you have relevant information. If so, you may receive a document called a subpoena. Subpoenas are issued by a court or by an attorney in a pending lawsuit. They may request that you provide documents. They may also request that you appear at a trial or a pre-trial deposition to answer questions. The subpoena should specify what is being requested, include a response deadline, and tell you the court, the case, the parties, and the attorney for the party who is requesting the information.
What do you do if you receive a subpoena? That’s what Shawn Rubel, Founder & CEO of firm client Vecteezy.com, was wondering when he received a subpoena in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York titled Car-Freshener Corp. et al. v. Crocs, Inc., Civil Action No. 7:16-cv-68. He knew he should not just ignore the subpoena. (That is never a good idea and could result in court proceedings against you to enforce the subpoena.) Instead, he contacted ELPO, and we helped him figure out what to do next.
First, we advised him that once you receive a subpoena, you need to preserve any information you may have that is responsive to it, at least until you figure out what you are obligated to provide. This is not the time to shred relevant documents or to delete email or other electronic records.
Second, we asked for a copy of the subpoena and information about how he received it, to make sure that it was properly issued and served on the company. A subpoena needs to be properly issued by a court with authority to do so and delivered in a way that complies with the court rules for it to be mandatory to respond.
Third, the subpoena issued to the company requested quite a few documents on short notice, and it would have been burdensome to respond. We talked with the attorney who issued the subpoena to see if he would narrow the requests and to work out a more reasonable response deadline.
Fourth, the subpoena requested that a representative of Vecteezy provide testimony at a pre-trial deposition. We helped them decide who should testify, met with the witness to prepare him for what to expect, and went to the deposition with him to look out for their interests.
If you receive a subpoena, and are wondering what to do next, please don’t hesitate to contact us.