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I am curious about how subpoenas work across state lines. Let's assume that a matter is before the county court in NJ but information is needed from a person domiciled in NY. It seems that an NJ attorney could simply bring the subpoena to a court clerk in NY and it would have the same force as if it were issued in NY. However, it doesn't seem to be the same in NJ. In other words, if the action is in NY, how hard is it to subpoena someone in NJ?

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  • FWIW, it is a complicated subject dependent in part on multiple state's civil procedure rules and statutes, and it isn't very easy for someone in state court to do unless the court already has jurisdiction over them in most case. Letters rogatory are sometimes needed. Federal court involves different considerations. – ohwilleke Oct 7 '19 at 23:52
  • @ohwilleke would it not depend on who is serving whom and what the subpoena is seeking, at least in federal court? For example, a subpoena duces tecum to a plaintiff’s employer from a defendant wouldn’t have much to consider w/r/t jurisdiction. Or am I missing something in OP’s question? – A.fm. Oct 10 '19 at 13:29
  • @A.fm. Federal court is significantly different from state court for this purpose because federalism. Conceptually, a subpoena duces tecum directed at a non-forum state non-party, presents the same jurisdictional issues as a subpoena to appear, even though the former is often much less burdensome than the later. In particular, it is not true as a general rule that "It seems that an NJ attorney could simply bring the subpoena to a court clerk in NY and it would have the same force as if it were issued in NY.", although sometimes something close to that is true due to special legislation. – ohwilleke Oct 10 '19 at 22:20
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    @ohwilleke - The reason I thought it was easier for an NJ attorney to bring the subpoena to a court clerk in NY was because of NY CPLR § 3119 (2012) which says, "When a party submits an out-of-state subpoena to the county clerk, the clerk, .... shall promptly issue a subpoena for service upon the person to which the out-of-state subpoena is directed." see law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2012/cvp/article-31/3119 – mankowitz Oct 11 '19 at 3:10
  • @mankowitz Good point. I haven't tried to enforce a state court subpoena from out of state against a New York person since January 1, 2011 and didn't notice at the time that the statute had been enacted in New York State. It differs from an in state subpoena in that it can be challenged in a NYS court rather than only in the issuing court. It has now been adopted by 42 states since its first adoption in 2008. uniformlaws.org/committees/… Ha! The legislator who carried the CO Bill was my law partner at the time. – ohwilleke Oct 13 '19 at 2:34

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