Stockton, CA asked in Consumer Law, Gov & Administrative Law and Health Care Law for California

Q: When responding to subpoenas from an attorney or an attorney's third-party affiliate, is a signed authorization require?

Is this statement true? A subpoena is not considered valid if it does not have a stamp or is not signed by a judge or court clerk. Both the stamp and the signature indicate that the subpoena has been properly authorized and issued by the court. Without these elements, the subpoena may not carry legal weight or be enforceable. It is essential to ensure that a subpoena is correctly stamped and signed by an authorized individual before complying with its requests.

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

A: In California, a subpoena issued by an attorney or an attorney's third-party affiliate must be properly signed and authorized, but it does not always require a stamp or signature from a judge or court clerk. The specific requirements depend on the type of subpoena and the stage of the legal proceedings.

1. Attorney-issued subpoenas: Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1985, an attorney of record in a case may issue subpoenas in the name of the court where the action is pending. These subpoenas must be signed by the attorney and include the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney. A judge or court clerk's signature is not required for attorney-issued subpoenas.

2. Deposition subpoenas: An attorney may issue a deposition subpoena for the production of business records without a court order or judge's signature, as per California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2020.410.

3. Court-issued subpoenas: In some cases, such as in criminal proceedings or when a subpoena is issued by a self-represented litigant, the subpoena must be signed by a judge or court clerk to be valid.

4. Authorization: While a signed authorization from the individual whose records are being sought is not always required for a subpoena to be valid, it is a best practice to obtain one. This is particularly true when dealing with sensitive information, such as medical records, which may be protected by privacy laws.

In summary, the statement that a subpoena is not valid without a stamp or signature from a judge or court clerk is not entirely accurate in California. Attorney-issued subpoenas and deposition subpoenas for business records do not require a judge's signature to be valid. However, it is crucial to ensure that any subpoena complies with the relevant statutory requirements and is properly signed by an authorized individual before complying with its requests.

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