Domesticating Out-of-State Subpoenas


When you need to get information or a deposition out of state, you’re limited by the power of your state court’s jurisdiction. In order to make the subpoena enforceable you’ll need to domesticate it in the other state, which can be tricky when you start involving two separate jurisdictions. Every state has its own rules of Civil Procedure, including how service and domestication must be handled. 

Subpoenas can be critical to a case, and despite how much can be involved in the process of domesticating a subpoena it’s often unavoidable. Whether for information or deposition, the choice of whether or not to serve out of state has become increasingly important as people move and travel more frequently than ever before. 

Given the complications of trying to domesticate an out-of-state subpoena, the Uniform Interstate and International Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA) was created to simplify the process. For states that don’t recognize the UIDDA or for subpoenas regarding information however, lawyers must utilize traditional methods of domestication. 

Federal Court Subpoenas

When you are dealing with matters in federal court, these rules differ from those regarding state to state subpoenas. Under Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal subpoenas can be issued in the district court of the case and then served anywhere in the United States. However, there are some restrictions on this regarding geographic location of where you require the discovery to take place or the potential motion to quash the subpoena by whoever receives it. 

Domesticating a subpoena through traditional methods

For information subpoenas, such as those requesting medical records, or for subpoenas for depositions, it is critically important to follow the rules of the foreign state to make sure the subpoena is legal and enforceable. 

Here are some of the states, as of January 2019, that haven’t enacted or don’t recognize the UIDDA:

  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • Puerto Rico
  • Texas

For states that have not become a party to the UIDDA, there is a significant amount of variation in the requirements for domestication. Some states require a court order, while others require filing an application with the clerk in the county where the individual resides. It’s very important to check with your local rules as well as that of the receiving state to make sure you are in compliance to ensure an enforceable subpoena. 

Domesticating a subpoena under the UIDDA 

Developed as a way to streamline the process for domesticating out-of-state subpoenas, the UIDDA was introduced in 2007. Since then more than 40 states have enacted the UIDDA, making it easier than ever before to serve in another state. 

However, the process isn’t as simple as just sending the documents to be served as they are in the receiving state. There is still a process to the domestication, one that involves nuances depending on the court and individuals involved in the process. Think of it similar to dealing with the varying personalities and preferences of judges.

As a result, lawyers must be sure to utilize the correct channels when serving through the UIDDA. Using a process server who is familiar with the process can make serving through the UIDDA much more time and cost-effective. To learn the ins and outs of the process, as well as determine the preferences of the receiving state, can take valuable time – in terms of case timelines and billable hours. 

Should you need to serve a subpoena in a state that is a party to the UIDDA, our experienced team of process servers are here to help: get in touch

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