How to Challenge a Subpoena


Unless you are a lawyer yourself, a law school student or are highly experienced with the legal system, challenging a subpoena on your own can seem daunting. You are best advised to consult with an attorney who is experienced in responding to discovery matters. Subpoenas generally fall into two areas: subpoenas ordering you to appear and testify in some type of grand jury, deposition, hearing or trial and subpoenas ordering you to provide copies of or access to documents or other records. By following the necessary steps, you can legally challenge a subpoena.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with internet access
  • Printer
  • Attorney experienced in discovery matters
  • Retain an attorney to challenge or respond to the subpoena on your behalf. Make sure that she has experience in discovery and litigation issues. In some cases, the judge presiding over the lawsuit may give you additional time to either object to or respond to the subpoena in order to permit you to retain legal counsel.

  • Object to a command to produce materials or permit inspection. At anytime before the date to comply with the order or 14 days after the subpoena is served, a recipient may object to the subpoena by writing and objecting to the counsel or party that issued the subpoena. If an objection is properly made, then the attorney or party that served the subpoena must gain a court order in order to compel the subpoena recipient to comply with the order.

  • Seek a court order to quash or modify the subpoena. A court must quash or modify a subpoena when one of the following situations occurs: It fails to allow a reasonable time to comply; it requires a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to travel more than 100 miles from where that person resides, is employed or regularly transacts business in person --- except that, subject to Rule 45(c)(3)(B)(iii), the person may be commanded to attend a trial by traveling from any such place within the state where the trial is held; it requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter if no exception or waiver applies or it subjects a person to undue burden.

    A court may quash or modify a subpoena under the following circumstances if it requires: disclosing a trade secret or other confidential research, development or commercial information; disclosing an unretained expert's opinion or information that does not describe specific occurrences in dispute and results from the expert's study that was not requested by a party or a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to incur substantial expense to travel more than 100 miles to attend trial.


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