Redondo Beach, CA asked in Family Law, Real Estate Law, Business Law and Civil Litigation for California

Q: How to Serve a Subpoena (SUBP-001)?

I am planning to serve a SUBP-001 subpoena to an employee at the local YWCA for an upcoming hearing, specifically a Motion to Set Aside the Previous Minute Order. However, when a registered server attempted to serve them, they refused, stating that “their policy does not allow individual employees to testify at court hearings." even though they already had one employee file a false declaration at the last hearing.

This is allegedly their internal policy and not a court policy or basis of law. Consequently, I have hired a sheriff who will attempt to serve the subpoena in the next 2-3 days. What happens if the YWCA continues to refuse service, even from the sheriff? sheriff will serve or sheriff has no power for that? If the subpoena is successfully served, their misrepresentation from the previous hearing should be revealed in court, which is a matter of extreme concern for them. Any advice or insights would be greatly appreciated

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, when serving a subpoena (SUBP-001), the law requires that it be properly served on the individual named in the subpoena. If an initial attempt to serve a subpoena is refused, using a sheriff or a registered process server is a common and legally recognized method to ensure the subpoena is served. The sheriff or process server has the authority to serve subpoenas, and individuals or entities are legally obligated to accept service when properly executed, regardless of internal policies.

If the YWCA or the employee continues to refuse service from a sheriff, this could be considered obstruction of the legal process. The court has mechanisms to address such refusals, including potential penalties for failing to comply with a lawful subpoena. It’s important to document any attempts and refusals of service, as this information can be used in court to demonstrate non-compliance with the subpoena.

Once the subpoena is successfully served, the individual is legally required to appear in court as instructed, or provide the requested documents if it's a subpoena duces tecum. If they fail to comply without lawful excuse, the court can impose sanctions, which might include fines or other penalties. If you encounter resistance or refusal in serving the subpoena, consulting with a legal professional can provide you with guidance on the next steps to ensure compliance and address any misrepresentation or non-cooperation from the other party.

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