What is a Subpoena?

In civil litigation, subpoenas are often used to compel discovery from nonparties to a suit such as individuals or corporations. In a California proceeding, a deposition subpoena is the only method by which to obtain discovery from a non-party in civil litigation. “A deposition subpoena must be served to compel that witness’s attendance, testimony, or production of documents and things pursuant to Chapter 6, ‘Nonparty Discovery,’ of the CDA.” (CCP §§ 2020.010-2020.510. See, e.g., California ex rel Lockyer v. Super. Ct., 122 Cal. App. 4th 1060, 1076-78 (2004).)

The California Civil Code allows an oral deposition, written deposition, or a deposition for production of business records and other things coming within the scope of Article 4 or 5. (CCP § 2020.010.) The process by which a nonparty is required to provide discovery is a deposition subpoena. (Id.) However, subpoenas are still subject to the rules regulating discovery between parties of a suit.

Any party is entitled to discovery proceedings up until the 30th day before the date initially set for the trial of the action and a continuance of the trial date does not operate to reopen discovery proceedings. (CCP § 2024.020.)

There are four types of deposition subpoenas: a subpoena for an oral deposition, a subpoena for business records deposition commanding only the production of business records for copying, a subpoena for business records deposition commanding the productions of records and testimony, and finally, a subpoena for a written deposition. (CCP §§ 2020.310, 2025.010, 2020.410, 2020.510, 2028.010.6.)

If the subpoena is for the production of business records, discovery will be considered complete on the date of production. (CCP § 2020.010.) However, if the subpoena is seeking personal records under CCP § 1985.3 then there needs to be at least 20 days’ notice. (CCP § 1985.3; see Unzipped Apparel v. Bader, 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 127 (2007).)

The Court is authorized under CCP § 1987.1 to order a subpoena quashed entirely, modified, or directed to comply with terms and conditions the Court declares, including protective orders. (CCP § 1987.1.) Under this section the court is also authorized to make any order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person. (Id.)

“If a deponent fails to answer any question or to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent’s control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production.” (CCP § 2025.480, subd. (a).) The court can order the disobeying party to comply within 60 days after completion of the deposition record. (Id.) Objections or other responses to a business records subpoena are the "deposition record" for purposes of measuring the 60-day period for a motion to compel. (See Unzipped Apparel, 156 Cal.App.4th at 132-133.)

Useful Rulings on Subpoena

Recent Rulings on Subpoena

CATHAY BANK VS ACE HARDWARE CORPORATION

However, the plaintiff may subpoena documents or witnesses to be available at the trial for the purpose of establishing the profits or financial condition referred to in subdivision (a), and the defendant may be required to identify documents in the defendant’s possession which are relevant and admissible for that purpose and the witnesses employed by or related to the defendant who would be most competent to testify to those facts.

  • Hearing

    Nov 06, 2020

TONY WATSON, ET AL. VS CAMI AUTOMOTIVE, INC, ET AL.

(CCP § 1987.1(a) [court “may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders.”].) No sanctions are sought, and none are awarded. Defendant CAMI’s motion to quash notice of deposition and production of documents of its PMQ in its entirety is denied. The court clerk is ordered to give notice.

  • Hearing

    Oct 05, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Products Liability

AJA STEEN, AN INDIVIDUAL VS IHS GLOBAL INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION

Conclusion IHS’s motion to compel compliance with the subpoena is granted.

  • Hearing

    Oct 02, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Wrongful Term

GUARDIANSHIP OF DAKOTA MARIE FLAHERTY

Nature of Proceedings: (1) Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoena (2) Status Hearing/Setting Motion to Quash; tentative ruling: deny. The court will set the hearing on the guardianship. Appearance required.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

GUARDIANSHIP OF DAKOTA MARIE FLAHERTY

Nature of Proceedings: (1) Motion to Quash Deposition Subpoena (2) Status Hearing/Setting

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

GONZALEZ VS DILL

Plaintiffs provided Defendant with written objections to the subpoena. However, since Plaintiffs are parties to this action, their remedy was to file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. Under the language of the statute, only a consumer who is a nonparty may provide written objections instead of filing a motion. Since Plaintiffs did not file a motion, they have not properly asserted their objections.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

CORA SUTTLES VS M'DEARS BAKERY & BRISTOL, LLC, AN ENTITY, ET AL.

LEGAL STANDARD California Code of Civil Procedure section 1987.1, subdivision (a) states, “[i]f a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court’s own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

510PACIFICAVE VS GINA M LA PIANA

The Court finds that the records sought via the deposition subpoena are relevant with respect to collecting information to satisfy the money judgment entered in this case. Moreover, based on a reading of the subpoena, the subpoena only seeks records as to Defendant with respect to: (1) entities over which she has control; and (2) bank accounts over which she has control or to which she has access.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Real Property

  • Sub Type

    Landlord Tenant

CITY OF COSTA MESA VS. CASA CAPRI, LLC

Thus, the information sought in the subpoena does not directly relate to the allegations in the complaint and plaintiffs have not shown that it does. Both sides request sanctions.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

MIDLAND ENTERTAINMENT LLC VS HYDRA GROUP LLC ET AL

As things presently stand, Third Floor has obtained via subpoena pleadings and discovery responses related to the Singer action from Singer himself. (Motion at p. 8.) Midland has also produced the Singer settlement, but has not produced communications related to the settlement or earlier drafts of the same. (Motion at p. 8.) It is these settlement-related communications and prior settlement agreement drafts that are at issue here. (Motion at p. 11.)

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

IVAN K STEVENSON VS WAI CHING SHILON ET AL

Stevenson Responding Party: None (1) Motion to Compel Compliance with Deposition Subpoena (as to Farmers Insurance Exhange) (2) Motion to Compel Compliance with Deposition Subpoena (as to Mid-Century Insurance Company) The court considered the moving papers. No opposition was filed. RULING The motions are GRANTED. Farmers Insurance Exchange is ordered to comply with the subpoena served on November 25, 2019, within 20 days.

  • Hearing

    Oct 01, 2020

MAURICE TUTU SWEENEY VS YEHUDA LEVY

Plaintiff contends it is improper for Defendant’s chosen doctor to require Plaintiff to agree that the examination is “independent” or to surrender his right to subpoena Dr. Bilder’s file. Opp. to Mental Exam Mot. 7. Plaintiff further argues the requested consent form is improper because the Code of Civil Procedure does not require the subject of a medical examination ordered under the Discovery Act to sign a consent form. Id.

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

LESLIE GOULD, ET AL VS. JOEL D. KETTLER, ET AL

In a separate suit he may bring unwilling witnesses into court by subpoena, and he may take their depositions. The [latter] remedy is ampler and more efficacious, and the case is one which demands the amplest and most efficacious remedy. (Ibid.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

CALIFORNIA STATE LABOR COMMISSIONER, DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS ENFORCEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, STATE OF CA VS GRAPHIC RESEARCH INC.

RELIEF REQUESTED Petition to Compel Compliance with an Investigative Subpoena SUMMARY OF ACTION On February 10, 2020, California State Labor Commissioner, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Department of Industrial Relations filed a petition to compel compliance with an investigative subpoena as to Graphic Research, Inc. The petition, and supporting motion to compel compliance were personally served on March 4, 2020. RULING: Granted.

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

  • Type

    Other

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

LESLIE GOULD, ET AL VS. JOEL D. KETTLER, ET AL

In a separate suit he may bring unwilling witnesses into court by subpoena, and he may take their depositions. The [latter] remedy is ampler and more efficacious, and the case is one which demands the amplest and most efficacious remedy. (Ibid.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

JANE HC DOE, A MINOR BY AND THROUGH HER GAURDIAN AD LITEM KIM S. VS TORRANCE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, A CALIFORNIA LOCAL PUBLIC ENTITY, ET AL.

CCP § 1985.3(b) states that, prior to the date called for in the subpoena duces tecum for the production of personal records, the subpoenaing party shall serve or cause to be served on the consumer whose records are being sought a copy of the subpoena duces tecum, of the affidavit supporting the issuance of the subpoena, if any, and of the notice described in subdivision (e) (notice to consumer), and proof of service as indicated in paragraph (1) of subdivision (c).

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

MAURICE TUTU SWEENEY VS YEHUDA LEVY

Plaintiff contends it is improper for Defendant’s chosen doctor to require Plaintiff to agree that the examination is “independent” or to surrender his right to subpoena Dr. Bilder’s file. Opp. to Mental Exam Mot. 7. Plaintiff further argues the requested consent form is improper because the Code of Civil Procedure does not require the subject of a medical examination ordered under the Discovery Act to sign a consent form. Id.

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

ARTHUR YAZICHYAN VS MERCEDES BENZ USA LLC

This time limit also applies to motions based on a deposition subpoena for production of documents or a business records subpoena. (Unzipped Apparel, LLC v. Bader (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 123, 127.) The 60-day time limit runs from the date objections are served because the deposition record is then complete. (Rutledge v. Hewlett-Packard Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 1164, 1192.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 30, 2020

KALJIAN SANTA BARBARA LLC V. DR. R. GREG LOWRY, DDS, INC.

The proof of service identifies Lowry Inc. as the party served with a deposition subpoena. It is therefore unclear whether the subpoena served is proper or whether the requirements for a subpoena duces tecum under section 1985 et al. have been met. Notwithstanding, there have been no procedural objections regarding the form of the subpoena.

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

JHOANA ALMACHE VS LAC USC MEDICAL CENTER ET AL

Legal Standard Where the witness whose deposition is sought is not a party, a subpoena must be served to compel his or her attendance, testimony, or production of documents. (CCP § 2020.010(b).) A deposition subpoena may request (1) only the attendance and testimony of a deponent, (2) only the production of business records for copying, or (3) the attendance and testimony, as well as the production of business records. (CCP § 2020.020.)

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

  • Judge Elaine Lu
  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

PHAN ULLMAN V. LE

Based on Plaintiff’s (Hanh Thuc Phan Ullman) Notice of Taking Off Calendar Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash or Modify Defendants’ Subpoena Duces Tecum (filed on 8-27-20 under ROA No. 28), Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash or Modify Deposition Subpoena (filed on 7-23-20 under ROA No. 19, and scheduled for hearing on 9-29-20) is off calendar.

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

VALERIE JIMENEZ, ET AL. VS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., ET AL.

“If a deponent fails to answer any question or to produce any document, electronically stored information, or tangible thing under the deponent's control that is specified in the deposition notice or a deposition subpoena, the party seeking discovery may move the court for an order compelling that answer or production.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 2025.480(a).) ANALYSIS The request for a discovery referee is MOOT. Plaintiff’s request for a discovery referee is denied.

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

JOY SLAGEL VS LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL

On March 3, 2020, Govind served a deposition subpoena for the production of business records on non-party Accuretta, Inc. The subpoena had a production date of April 2, 2020. The subpoena requests Accuretta, Inc. to provide all federal and state tax returns filed on behalf of Prashant or any organization in which Prashant is an owner, officer, director, or manager. On March 12, 2020, Accuretta, Inc. served objections to the production of records pursuant to the subpoena.

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Wrongful Term

ESTATE OF PRUDENCIA DAILINGER, A DECEASED INDIVIDUAL THROUGH ADMINISTRATOR GEORGE DALINGER, ET AL. VS CITY VIEW ALF, INC., ET AL.

While no case holds specifically on the legality or illegality of compelled releases, at least one appellate court has viewed such a procedure as a suspicious circumvention of ordinary subpoena procedures. (See Miranda v. 21st Century Ins. Co. (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 913, 918 fn. 2 [describing how a third party’s decision to decline performance of a subpoena without an authorization may have bespoke the subpoena-issuing party’s failure to comply with ordinary subpoena requirements].)

  • Hearing

    Sep 29, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

MEGAN REESE VS CALIFORNIA BACK AND PAIN SPECIALISTS ET AL

LEGAL STANDARD California Code of Civil Procedure section 1987.1, subdivision (a) states, “[i]f a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court’s own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying

  • Hearing

    Sep 28, 2020

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Medical Malpractice

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