72 The Alabama Lawyer 470 (2011). Can I Get a Witness:.

Author:By Robin H. Jones

Alabama Lawyer


72 The Alabama Lawyer 470 (2011).

Can I Get a Witness:

Can I Get a Witness:Obtaining Out-of-State Deposition SubpoenasBy Robin H. JonesAt some point, most lawyers will have to track down a witness residing in another state for purposes of obtaining discovery for use in a case pending before an Alabama 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 an out-of-state 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.

Frederal Courts Havc Uniform Deposition Subpoena Procedures

In federal court, issuing an out-of-state subpoena is a relatively painless and uniform process. Indeed, if you are an attorney authorized to practice in the federal court where your action is pending, you can issue a subpoena in another jurisdiction without the court's involvement or the assistance of local counsel. As set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 45, the subpoena must simply be issued from the United States District Court where the deposition is to be taken or the production or inspection is to occur.(fn1)

Alas, such uniform simplicity for issuing out-of-state subpoenas does not currently exist at the state court level. The specific requirements for obtaining an out-of-state subpoena generally vary from state to state and, sometimes, from county to county. The Uniform Law Commission, however, has taken steps to streamline the out-of-state subpoena process among the state courts.

The Uniform Law Commission

The Uniform Law Commission (ULC), also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, was established in 1892 and is comprised of practicing lawyers, judges, legislators, law professors, and others individuals qualified to practice law.(fn2) These commissioners represent each state as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Their respective state governments appoint them to "research, draft and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of state law where uniformity is desirable and practi-cal."(fn3) With advice from the American Bar Association, uniform laws are initially prepared in committees comprised of ULC commissioners.(fn4)...

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