Subpoenas and Other Record Requests
Resources and Guidelines for Faculty & Staff Members
Like most other educational institutions, the University receives numerous requests for information and records regarding students, employees and the University’s business activities. These requests come in many forms, including letters, faxes, phone calls and formal subpoenas from courts of law at the local, state and federal level. Because of the increasing complexity of state and federal laws governing access to information and the potential privacy rights of individuals whose personal information is being sought, all requests for records should be forwarded to the Vice President and General Counsel’s Office, which is located at 206 Tolentine Hall.
Please contact the Office of the Vice President or General Counsel at (610) 519-7857 if you have any questions or concerns or require clarification regarding any requests for information or documents your office may receive.
What to do:
Subpoenas directed to the University require special attention and should be forwarded immediately to the Vice President and General Counsel’s Office for handling. If you should receive a subpoena in your office, please be aware of the following:
- The Vice President and General Counsel’s Office coordinates the response to all subpoenas received by the University, regardless of which departments’ records are actually being subpoenaed. Having the subpoena handled by our office ensures that all appropriate departments are contacted, all subpoenaed records are provided and any personal appearances are made as required by law.
- In order for a subpoena to be considered valid and trigger the University’s obligation to comply by providing the requested documents or personal appearance, it must meet certain legal requirements. Our office will determine the subpoena’s validity before turning over any records to an outside party or requiring any University employee to appear in Court.
- If you receive a phone call asking where a subpoena can be served, please direct the caller to the Vice President and General Counsel’s Office at (610) 519-7857.
- If a subpoena is hand delivered to your office and the courier/process server requests a signature, do not sign. Instead, please direct the person to deliver the subpoena to the Vice President and General Counsel’s Office at 206 Tolentine Hall.
- If you receive a subpoena in the mail, by fax, or by email, forward it immediately to the Vice President and General Counsel’s office. Most subpoenas have a required response date and failing to respond by that date can leave the University open to judicial sanctions. If your office has records responsive to the subpoena, please contact the Office at (610) 519-7857 to make arrangements to have them produced; but do not hold up sending the subpoena while the details of production are finalized.
- Immediately take steps to preserve any records, paper or electronic, stored in any medium, that could be relevant to the subpoenaed records.
If the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel Receives a Subpoena for Records from Your Office
In the event our office receives a subpoena for records held by your office, you will be contacted by a member of our staff regarding the production of any such documents. The following information may be of assistance to you in responding to such a request:
- Do not remove or destroy any documents potentially subject to a subpoena request. If you have a question about whether a specific document or documents in a file are covered by a subpoena, please speak to a member of our staff or flag the document(s) for special attention.
- Many departments have confidentiality and security concerns about allowing original files out of the office. Our office staff have significant experience in dealing with these issues and will work with departments to arrange for production of documents in a manner that is sensitive to such issues.
If the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel Receives a Subpoena for Personal Appearance by Someone in Your Office
Most subpoenas received by the University only require production of records. However, occasionally a subpoena will require that a University representative appear to either verify the authenticity of the records or testify regarding his or her knowledge of a particular incident or event. If our office receives a subpoena for a personal appearance by someone in your office, you will be contacted by a member of our staff to identify the appropriate person to appear. The following information may be of assistance to you in such an instance:
- The Office staff will endeavor to provide such information and documents so as to avoid the need for any University representative to make a personal appearance in court. However, there will be times when such appearances are required. In that event, the Office staff will attempt to limit the inconvenience to the University’s representative, but please be aware that the timing of such appearances is controlled by the Court and the subpoenaing authority, not the University.
- The Court has legal authority to impose significant penalties, up to and including imprisonment, for failure to appear in Court in connection with a validly issued subpoena. Therefore, ignoring a subpoena for a personal appearance, even if the required time and date of appearance are inconvenient, is not an option.
- Reasonable expenses incurred by the University representative in making the personal appearance will be reimbursed by either the subpoenaing authority or the University upon presentation of receipts or other appropriate documentation.
- If you have any questions or concerns regarding appearing in court on behalf of the University, one of the attorneys in the office will be available to discuss those issues with you prior to the appearance.