Subpoenas and Discovery

If your office or department receives a subpoena or a discovery request, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs right away.


A subpoena is an order issued by or on behalf of a court of law ordering a person to appear in court or in some other location at a particular time. A subpoena may be issued by a judge, by a clerk of court, by a law enforcement official, or in some jurisdictions by an attorney. In many cases, a subpoena directs a person to bring certain documents. Such a subpoena may be referred to as a subpoena duces tecum.
Most of the time when a subpoena is served on the university or on one of its employees, the subpoena will be a subpoena duces tecum. In those cases, a party to litigation is seeking access to some documents or records the university has in its possession. Though subpoenas duces tecum order an employee to appear in court and bring certain documents along, usually it is possible for the Office of Legal Affairs to interact with the court or attorney who issued the subpoena in order to prevent the need for a personal appearance.
The specific rules governing subpoenas vary depending on the jurisdiction of the issuing authority, but in all cases there are specific rules about who can issue a subpoena, how it must be served, and how it must be answered. In rare cases, we may receive subpoenas that are not legally valid, and in those cases we must make an appropriate response.
If a subpoena is served on your office or department, or upon you in your capacity as an Armstrong employee, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs right away so that we may make a response that is legally sufficient and with a minimum of inconvenience.


Another way litigants may attempt to gain access to persons or records is through the use of discovery. Discovery is simply a set of legal procedures that allow the parties to litigation to investigate the facts of a dispute prior to taking it to trial. Discovery requests may take several forms, and are identified with titles such as Request for Production of Documents, Notice to Produce, or Notice of Deposition. Other, similar titles may appear, but in any case, the document should identify the name of the litigation from which it arises, the name of the court in which it is being litigated, and a case number. As is the case with subpoenas, individual employees may be required to appear, but in most cases the need for this can be eliminated. Please notify the Office of Legal Affairs immediately if you should receive a discovery request.


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