February 06, 2012 Articles

Can I Get a Witness: Obtaining Out-of-State Deposition Subpoenas

Most lawyers will at some point have to track down a witness residing in another state for purposes of obtaining discovery for use in a case pending before another state court.

By Robin H. Jones

Most lawyers will at some point have to track down a witness residing in another state for purposes of obtaining discovery for use in a case pending before another state court. For instance, to defend your case pending in the Circuit Court of Escambia County, Alabama, you need critical testimony from an uncooperative, former employee of your client who has moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue her show-business dreams. This situation calls for the issuance of an out-of-state subpoena. Generally, upon learning of the need to issue such a subpoena, my head is instantly filled with procedural questions (and the refrain from Marvin Gaye’s 1963 classic):  Does California require letters rogatory or commission? Will I have to obtain local counsel to file a miscellaneous action in a California court to prompt a judge to issue my subpoena? Can I include a document request with my deposition subpoena? Proper issuance and service of your subpoena is crucial if you want your witness to appear for the deposition. Indeed, unless the former employee agrees to miss an acting lesson to appear for deposition, you will require a valid subpoena to command her appearance.

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