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Responding to Federal Subpoenas for Business Records or Documents

Responding to Federal Subpoenas for Business Records or Documents

When a business receives a federal subpoena requesting records or documents, it can be intimidating. Many companies don’t know how to properly respond. This article provides guidance on complying with federal subpoenas seeking business information.

What is a Federal Subpoena?

A federal subpoena orders someone to produce documents, records, or other tangible items. It is issued under authority of the federal courts. Federal subpoenas are used in both civil and criminal cases [1].

For example, in a federal lawsuit between Company A and Company B, Company A could subpoena records from Company C. Or during a federal criminal investigation, the government could subpoena documents from a business.

Ignoring a federal subpoena can lead to contempt of court charges. Fines and even jail time are possible. So companies must take subpoenas seriously.

Assembling Documents and Records

The first step is gathering all materials requested by the subpoena. This may require searching files, computers, cell phones, and other sources of business information.

Ideally, documents should be produced in their original form, organized as kept in the ordinary course of business [1]. However, if needed, documents can be organized and labeled to correspond with the subpoena’s specific requests.

All relevant materials should be collected, including electronic documents like emails, texts, and digital files. Both current and archived records may need to be searched if specified.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
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Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Reviewing for Privileged or Confidential Information

Once materials are gathered, they must be carefully reviewed for privileged or confidential information. This includes trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other protected documents [2].

An attorney can identify items that may be withheld due to privilege. A detailed log should be created describing any documents being withheld and the reasons why.

For sensitive materials that must be produced, a protective order can be requested. This limits disclosure to the case and prevents using them outside of litigation.

Bates Stamping and Numbering

Before production, each page should be marked with a unique Bates stamp number for identification [2]. This allows easy reference to specific documents.

Bates stamp numbers run sequentially, like DOC000001, DOC000002, etc. They should be placed in the same location on each page.

Numbering documents also facilitates creating a detailed index describing what is being produced. The index should reference the Bates stamp number for each item.

Making Copies

The original assembled documents should not be produced. Only copies should be provided in response to a subpoena [4]. The company must maintain the originals.

Copies can be made electronically or in paper format. Provide copies in the format specified by the subpoena. If no format is indicated, produce copies in the same form as the original documents.

Organize the copies logically, such as grouping by topic or chronologically. This facilitates review by the party issuing the subpoena.

Producing Documents and Records

Copies of responsive materials should be sent by the due date and location noted in the subpoena. Include the detailed index describing what is being produced.

If any documents were withheld for privilege, the privilege log should be produced. This allows the subpoena issuer to assess claims of privilege.

The company must retain the original assembled documents in case future review is needed, such as if a dispute arises over production.

Objecting to All or Part of the Subpoena

If a subpoena seems improper or unduly burdensome, prompt objections can be made [4]. Reasons to object include:

  • The subpoena requests privileged information
  • Complying would be unreasonably expensive/difficult
  • The subpoena seeks materials irrelevant to the case
  • The subpoena fails to allow reasonable time to respond
  • The subpoena was not properly served

Objections should be filed quickly, such as within 2 weeks. Support each objection with specific facts and legal citations. Propose reasonable modifications to the subpoena.

If negotiations fail, ask the court to quash or modify the improper parts of the subpoena. But valid portions must still be obeyed to avoid contempt charges.

Get Legal Counsel

Receiving a federal subpoena raises complex legal issues. Consult an attorney to ensure proper response while protecting privileges [4].

Experienced counsel can strategically object to improper subpoena requests. They can also manage communications and negotiations with the issuing party.

For any disputed issues, a lawyer can file motions asking the court to take certain actions. There are several types of motions that may help resolve or narrow the issues in a case:

  • Motion for Summary Judgment – Asks the court to decide the case or parts of the case without a trial because there are no factual disputes. If granted, it can resolve some or all of the issues in the case. [4]
  • Motion to Dismiss – Asks the court to dismiss certain claims or the entire case for legal or procedural reasons. If granted on some claims, it narrows the issues for trial. [5]
  • Motion in Limine – Asks the court to exclude certain evidence or testimony at trial. Limiting evidence can narrow the issues the jury or judge must consider. [6]
  • Motion to Compel – Asks the court to order the other party to respond to discovery requests or comply with court orders. Can help obtain evidence needed to prove claims.
  • Motion to Amend – Asks the court to allow changes to the pleadings, such as correcting information or adding claims or defenses. Amending pleadings can significantly alter the case issues.

There are strict procedural rules for filing motions, such as deadlines and page limits. [1][2][3] The other party gets to oppose the motion, and there may be a court hearing to decide the issue.

Motions require legal expertise to prepare. An attorney can advise which motions to file and represent you in arguing to the judge. Motions are an important tool for shaping the case and controlling the issues the court must decide.

Citations

[1] https://nycourts.gov/courthelp/goingtocourt/motionsOSC.shtml [2] https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/motions.shtml[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_11 [4] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_56[5] https://www.civillawselfhelpcenter.org/self-help/lawsuits-for-money/pre-trial-stage-filing-and-opposing-motions/246-filing-motions-to-resolve-the-case-or-narrow-issues[6] https://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/glossary [Citation for motion to compel]

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