Subpoena Timelines

Judgment recovery sometimes requires judgment debtor examinations, and sometimes also document production requests, for copies of records from third-parties such as the judgment debtor’s bank, landlord, or employer. This article has California for an example, and every Federal and State court has deadlines for when things must get served.

This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment matchmaking expert, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

Before a third-party can be served a subpoena to produce copies of records relating to your judgment debtor, an examination hearing for the debtor examination themselves; must be scheduled with the court. Then, the clock starts running for the deadlines to serve the debtor and any third-parties. Because the debtor must, and third parties either must or should be personally served; it is a good idea to schedule the examination date much further out than the minimum number of days specified by law, your court, and the California examples in this article; to give your process server time to get everyone served.

A general rule when calculating court deadlines, is to count backwards from the date you want people to appear to answer questions, or to bring (produce) documents. Of course, you must take into account weekends, holidays, and any dates the court will be closed. The court’s website should list any upcoming closure dates and holidays.

Courts always have deadlines for getting things served, one way or another. An example might be 15 days. Usually, you must add some additional days if the service is done by first class mail. Count backward for the (e.g.) 15 days. Do not count holidays, weekends, or days when the court is closed. Whatever date is calculated, will be the last day the parties can get served.

Usually, when the subpoenaed records are for consumer (non business) records, such as from your judgment debtor’s bank, employer, or utility company; the judgment debtor must be served a “notice to the consumer”. In California, this is form subp025.PDF, which informs the debtor about their potential options. This notice is served on the debtor at least 10 days before any third-party is served if served by mail; or 5 days, if it is personally served, as per CCP 1985.3(b)(3).

I find CCP 2020.410 to be somewhat confusing. It says that a subpoena shall be served by the “date that is no earlier than 20 days after the issuance, or 15 days after the service, of the deposition subpoena, whichever date is later”. Most recovery experts have third-party subpoenas personally served at least 20 days before the hearing date, or 25 days, if they are served by first class mail.

After the judgment debtor is served their consumer notice, which tells them that some copies of their records are being requested with a subpoena; they have 20 days in which they can file a motion to quash your subpoena. If they file such a motion, third-parties cannot disclose the debtor’s records unless and until the court denies the debtor’s motion to quash.

Source by Mark D Shapiro

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