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How can I subpoena personal records from a third party in California?

Alameda, CA |

I know I need to fill out the subpoena form, but do I then need to file it with the clerk and have them issue it, or personally serve on non party and all defendants and then file with court?

is there a fee in Alameda County Superior Court?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

These subpoenas are not filed with the clerk. You or someone you hire needs to personally serve them on the individual involved (not by mail, fax, email, etc.). If it is a corporation, you will need to serve it on the designated agent for service of process (found on the secretary of state's website) or another person identified by the company. You can find the specifics of this in California Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.220(b) and (c).

You will also need to enclose the appropriate witness fee of $35 with the subpoena for production of documents (see California Code of Civil Procedure section 2020.230 and Government Code section 68093).

Keep in mind that if you are seeking the documents containing consumer information of a third party, you will need to give the notice to consumer required under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1985.3 and 1985.4 if the personal records are for someone other than yourself or the third party receiving the subpoena.

Disclaimer: The above answer should not be considered and does not constitute legal advice. You should not be relied on any of this advice because each case is fact specific and could be subject to different local, state, and federal law. No attorney-client relationship exists based on this response.


The clerk will issue a subpoena at not cost to you. A copy has to be personally served on the witness. You hold the original with original proof of service, bring it to court with you. If witness does not appear you can show it to court and ask for an OSC re Contempt to be issued.

Depending upon the records being sought you may have to comply with provisions of Section 1985.3 in terms of timing and service on opposing party and witness.

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.


If you do not have an attorney and ask the clerk to issue the subpoena, it is often still a good idea to have it served by a professional process server. The cost is $40 or so and they will provide a Proof of Service for you. It does sound like you will have to follow 1985.3 and provide notice so the consumer can file an objection to your ability to get the records if they want to.

Use the web site to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.