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Subpoenaed in Multiple Federal Cases? How to Handle Competing Demands

By Spodek Law Group | January 21, 2024
(Last Updated On: January 21, 2024)

Subpoenaed in Multiple Federal Cases? How to Handle Competing Demands

Getting subpoenaed to provide documents or testify in a federal legal case can be stressful enough. But what if you get subpoenaed in multiple federal cases by different parties with competing interests? Now you’re really in a bind trying to figure out how to handle all these demands. As someone who values ethics and transparency, you want to fully comply with lawful subpoenas. But you also don’t want to inadvertently share sensitive information that could harm your own interests across these various legal matters. This article provides some practical guidance on how to navigate this tricky situation.

Get Organized

First, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Getting subpoenaed by multiple parties on various federal cases may feel overwhelming, but with some organization and planning, you can handle it methodically.

  • Gather together all the subpoenas you have received and review each one. Make sure you understand what specific testimony and/or documents each party is demanding from you.
  • Create a spreadsheet to track key details on each subpoena:
    • Date received
    • Case caption (parties named)
    • Court jurisdiction
    • Name and contact info for attorney who issued subpoena
    • Date of deposition or document production
    • List of specific documents/topics requested
  • Note interrelationships between the cases and parties. For example, are any parties on the same “side” of the litigation in different cases? Are any parties adverse to each other in the different cases? This context will help you assess competing interests.
  • Organize the requested documents for each case in a way that enables you to review and produce what is called for efficiently. Set up separate folders or drives so you don’t accidentally mix up documents across cases.

Consult an Attorney

Before responding to federal subpoenas from adverse parties on multiple cases, it’s wise to consult your own attorney, even if you don’t consider yourself a party in these cases. Here’s why:

  • An experienced attorney can help you parse through the demands across subpoenas to determine what testimony and documents you are—and are not—required to provide in each instance.
  • If any demands seem ambiguous or unduly burdensome, your attorney can file motions with the court to clarify or narrow them so you aren’t doing more work than legally necessary.
  • If you inadvertently miss any production deadlines due to the overload of responding to multiple subpoenas, your attorney can request extensions from the courts so you avoid being held in contempt.
  • If any subpoenas create conflicts across the cases, your attorney can help negotiate solutions with the various parties issuing the subpoenas to protect your interests. For example, perhaps you need to produce the same documents in more than one case but there are confidentiality issues. Your attorney can work with the parties to arrange protective orders regarding use of the documents.

Bottom line: Your attorney serves as your advocate, helping relieve some of your burden and ensuring your rights are protected across these complex federal matters.

Assess Confidentiality Concerns

When subpoenaed in multiple federal cases with adverse parties, sensitive confidential information is at greater risk of inadvertent disclosure. Carefully analyze confidentiality issues before producing any documents.

  • Note which documents have been demanded by multiple parties and assess the potential risks if that sensitive information got shared across cases.
  • Work with your attorney to explore protections like filing documents under seal or negotiating protective orders to limit wider use of confidential materials.
  • Consider redacting highly sensitive personal information (like SSNs) before producing documents. This balances transparency needs with privacy rights.
  • If negotiating confidentiality protections with parties proves impossible, your attorney can file motions to quash the subpoenas in question, arguing that the demands are unreasonable if they require revealing trade secrets or private information that could unjustly harm your interests.

The court may agree to narrow or eliminate demands that seem to create unavoidable confidentiality problems.

Schedule Depositions Strategically

If you’ve been subpoenaed for depositions across multiple federal cases, strategic scheduling is essential.

  • Don’t let the most aggressive attorney simply pick dates without your input—otherwise, you’ll end up on their case’s timeline without considering deadlines in the other matters.
  • Review the production deadlines across all your cases and note periods when document reviews or hearings may be happening simultaneously in different matters.
  • Have your attorney coordinate with all case attorneys to find deposition dates that create the least conflicts on your end. That ensures you can properly prepare for each one.
  • If certain attorneys won’t compromise on deposition dates, your attorney can negotiate or file motions to get the timing worked out equitably across cases.

Having your own legal advocate coordinates this scheduling helps avoid chaos.

Verify Compliance Frequently

Finally, as you produce documents and testify in these various federal matters, continually double check that you have fully complied with each lawful subpoena demand.

  • Reference your tracking spreadsheet to see which production deadlines are coming up in which cases. Make sure you meet impending ones.
  • After each deposition, review the transcript against the specific demands in the subpoena that governed it. Verify that you addressed the required topics thoroughly based on the questions attorneys chose to ask. Follow up on any gaps.
  • In producing documents, use tools like search functions and hashtags to continually search for any materials that may have been omitted from your productions thus far. Review and produce anything you find.

Staying meticulously organized and frequently verifying you are meeting case demands protects you from being accused of non-compliance if any party tries to fault you for overlooking something.Juggling subpoenas from competing parties on complex federal cases is certainly a tough spot to be in. Maintaining detailed tracking systems, consulting an attorney, negotiating confidentiality protections, coordinating strategic scheduling, and repeatedly double checking compliance with all demands makes fulfilling your lawful duties manageable. With disciplined organization and support, you can appropriately provide the testimony and documents judicial matters require without compromising sensitive information or your own rights and interests.

Resources

For more help handling federal subpoenas, check out these legal resources:

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