When you find yourself served with legal papers, the first thing you must do is figure out what type of papers have been delivered. They could be advising you that you are being sued. They may call you to court or a deposition as a witness. (Regardless of what type of papers you receive, take the time to make a call. In many cases, the assistance of an experienced southern California business attorney could help you avoid becoming unnecessarily involved in someone else's lawsuit). When you are first served, open the papers and determine if you have received a summons or a subpoena.
The summons means that you are being sued. The subpoena requires your attendance as a witness or for the production of documents at a trial, hearing or deposition. The subpoena can be served on parties to a lawsuit or non-parties to the lawsuit (or criminal case). If you received a subpoena, the next step is to determine which type of subpoena you received: deposition subpoena or trial subpoena.
Deposition Subpoena: Requires your attendance and/or the production of specified documents or items at a deposition. This document is served to compel a non-party witness to appear to provide testimony or documents/items needed at a deposition. The deposition subpoena is not required in order to compel a party to the action to appear at the deposition.
Trial Subpoena: Compels attendance and/or production of specified documents or items at a trial, hearing or other matter (excluding deposition). This document can compel a party or non-party witness to be in attendance and/or to produce the required documents/items. Having said that, the "notice to attend" is usually the document that compels a party witness to be in attendance at the trial or hearing.
Once you have determined what type of subpoena you have received, you will notice that it requires one of three things: attendance at a specified time and place, production of documents at a specified time and place, or production of documentation and attendance at a specified time and place. If you are in receipt of a subpoena to produce documents at a specific time and place, do so. Do not provide them early as this could prevent others from seeking their right to stop the subpoena by seeking a protective order.
If you have additional concerns regarding the receipt of a subpoena and how to respond, please get in touch with one of the real estate and business lawyers at southern California's The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP. We can assist you in determining what the best response will be depending on the case and your situation.