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How long before the trial does a subpoena to provide documents have to be served?

Downey, CA |

I am a teacher and one of my student's mother's served me with a subpoena asking me to provide the court with information on a conversation I had with her child a couple months ago. She served me at my house this morning and the trial will be in 14 days. Did she serve me within a reasonable time frame of the hearing? Do I have to provide the court with the information she is requesting?

The mom told me that her ex-husband and her are dealing with a court order violation contempt matter.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Please bear in mind that I am answering your question based on only the information you presented; additional information might help.

    First: Did she serve you within a reasonable time? There are two types of subpoenas requiring you to appear at court. One, the Civil Subpoena for Personal Appearance (Civil Subpoena), does NOT require you to bring additional documents, and can be served within a "reasonable" time prior to the appearance at court. Generally, courts have held that five days in advance of the court date is reasonable for that, and we try to serve five days in advance to avoid problems. The courts can and have, however, enforced a CIvil Subpoena served the day before court. So, if you were served with a Civil Subpoena, you were served in plenty of time. The second type of subpoena is a Civil Subpoena Duces Tecum, which requires you to appear and produce documents at the hearing. This Civil Subpoena Duces Tecum (CSDT) requires that you be served, again, a "reasonable" time before hearing, sufficient to allow the subpoenaed party to gather the documents and bring them to court. Under that standard, as well, it appears you have been timely served.

    Next: Do you have to provide the Court with the information she is requesting? That depends, and I cannot answer that because I don't know what Mom is asking. If you are a public school teacher, you should contact the school district as they will have attorneys on staff to deal with this. It has been my experience that the district's attorneys will either file an objection or will show up with the teacher. If you are a private school teacher, the school should also have some arrangement for legal representation and advice. Contact your administrative body and get some advice which applies to the precise questions Mom is asking. It could be that your school's attorney will find that the subpoena is procedurally deficient and will tell you not to appear, or give you other direction. That attorney will be much more clued in with your particular circumstance, and can ask you all the questions that I cannot to help him or her give you good advice.

    If you are a private school teacher and have no access to legal representation or advice through the school, you should plan to appear at court. Prior to your appearance, take everything you have been given and consult with a private attorney, to make sure you are protecting yourself.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.


  2. If you're a teacher employed by a public school district, the first thing you should do is contact your supervisor and the school district's attorneys about whether or not you need to comply, and what you do and don't have to do in order to comply. There are fairly specific requirements for a subpoena for school records, and if the person serving the subpoena didn't meet all the requirements, you won't have to produce anything.

    If you're employed by a private school you should speak to the school administration about consulting with THEIR attorneys.

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