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Foreign Subpoenas

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by MrT8078!, Dec 10, 2020.

  1. MrT8078!

    MrT8078! Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Hello,

    I am helping some elderly family members who are suing somebody in Arizona. The defendant has submitted a copy of their emails from an individual in Wisconsin, and we strongly suspect that the plaintiff fabricated part of these emails. The plaintiffs wish to issue a foreign subpoena to this individual in Wisconsin. The main issue is that the records that the individual submitted are protected records that would likely require a court order to obtain. Does anybody know how to go about this? Would a court order (then presented as a foreign subpoena to the appropriate court district in Wisconsin) be enough? Hiring a lawyer is not an option.

    Thank You!
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    You probably won't like to hear this, but you may well be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) by advising these family members in their litigation. That could do them harm and could get you in legal trouble with the state.

    You strongly suspect that the plaintiffs fabricated part of the e-mails? If your relatives are the plaintiffs, as you indicated, shouldn't they know if they fabricated them?

    You haven't told what kind of protected records they'd be seeking so even if someone here was was willing and able to address this, there isn't enough info here to do that. Moreover, attorneys generally cannot assist someone in the unauthorized practice law, so you may find no lawyers here who will help you with that.

    Why not? What is the type of claim involved, and what are they seeking? A lot of civil cases can be done on a contingent fee basis, where the lawyer gets paid a percentage of the award as his/her fee. If that's not possible, then perhaps they can get assistance from a legal aid clinic, law school legal clinic, state bar pro bono program, or other low cost/free legal resource.
     
  3. MrT8078!

    MrT8078! Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Apologies, I did mean the defendant fabricated part of the emails. Also, I'm not a lawyer. I'm just asking if anybody knows the basic process for issuing a foreign subpoena in which protected records are involved. And I'm not sure what planet you're on, but getting pro bono assistance these days is very difficult.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If that is the case, the best thing you can do is advise your relatives to forget about the lawsuit.

    If you persist in acting as their lawyer, you could end up in legal jeopardy yourself.
     
  5. MrT8078!

    MrT8078! Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Maybe I wasn't clear here. I am not a lawyer, nor am I acting as a lawyer. I am simply providing them with resources. I'm not sure what the big deal is. If your family member asked you what the general process for something was, would you say to them "I'm not your lawyer, sorry!"? Or would you provide them with the appropriate resource?
     
  6. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    You were cautioned by two attorney's that, per your opening post, you may be engaged in UPL. If you wish to just offer a resource to your friend, give then the address of this site.
     
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Helping them how? Suing somebody for what?

    Huh? "[T]heir emails from an individual in Wisconsin"?

    Why do you think that, and are you including a subpoena as a type of court order?

    Yes. Virtually every attorney who handles civil litigation knows how.

    I don't have any idea how the process works in Arizona or Wisconsin (and, to the best of my knowledge, no lawyers admitted in either of those states follow these boards regularly), but here's a very general overview.

    If a party to a lawsuit in State X wants to obtain discovery from a person or entity in State Y, that party will need to first figure out what the procedure is in State Y. Sometimes, it's very simple. For example, if State Y were California, the party could simply file what's called a "miscellaneous action" in California, which is essentially a lawsuit whose only purpose is to allow a subpoena to be issued in connection with litigation pending in another state. In other states, however, it may be that the party will need to get a a court order from the State X court and take that order to a court in State Y to obtain a subpoena. Memory serves me that some states used sort of a middle ground, but that's about the long and the short of it. When I practiced privately and we needed discovery from another state, we would engage an attorney in that other state to assist us. Without doing that, it would almost certainly take a tremendous amount of research to get it right.

    Please explain exactly what you mean by "protected records."

    "[G]etting pro bono assistance" in garden variety civil litigation has always been very difficult because lawyers -- no different than anyone else -- don't typically like to work for free. That's why "Tax Counsel" did not say anything about "pro bono assistance."

    You're conducting legal research on behalf of a litigant. That very much is "acting as a lawyer." You can say, "oh, I'm just helping my family members," all you want, but it's the nature of the action that makes for unauthorized practice of law. It's obviously up to you to accept or reject information you get from anonymous strangers on the internet, but I doubt you'd have posted here if you didn't think folks here knew what they were talking about.

    You ask that question as though you're simply giving them something you already have. But you don't have it and apparently don't have the first clue about how things work. If I weren't an attorney, I'd say, "Sorry; I'm not an attorney and don't know how to do proper legal research, so I'm not a good candidate to help." It's no different than, if a family member came to me and said, "Hey...I'm having a weird pain just below my navel and my poop looks weird." I wouldn't try to play doctor. Rather, I'd refer the family member to a real doctor.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
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  8. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Of course not - offering information about a "general process" is fine. Things like "you'd probably have to file a lawsuit" or "you can probably look at the file" are fine. What you are doing, however, goes beyond that.
     
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  9. MrT8078!

    MrT8078! Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Ok, thank you everyone. Upon reflection, it looks like I'm over my head. To clarify, I got caught up in the difference between legal advice and legal information. I won't move forward with this. Thank you again.
     
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