Hickman & Robinson was inspired by the difficulty attorneys have encountered in trying to propound discovery (including depositions and subpoenas) in other states. In certain cases, I’ve had to compel parties or business to produce key evidence and was shocked when I knew more about the process than clerks in other state courts.
The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (“UIDDA”) was specifically designed to add predictability and uniformity to the process of interstate discovery. This has been frustrated by three main impediments.
First, unlike many other uniform laws, the UIDDA has not been adopted by every state:
Second, there is so much variation among the states that have adopted the UIDDA that the goals of uniformity and predictability have been considerably undermined.
Third, the uniform process laid out in the UIDDA requires an out-of-state party to submit a foreign subpoena in the court for the county in which the discovery is to be conducted. This is problematic because the clerks deal with these issues so rarely, they often don’t know what to do. It is also problematic because the out-of-state attorney is essentially forced to familiarize his or herself with the legal geography of the other state and will likely waste precious time investigating which precise branch should issue the subpoena. Alaska, for instance, has two court systems: superior courts and district courts. How is an attorney from Maine, who knows little to nothing about Alaska law, supposed to know which court he needs to submit his or her subpoena to?
States like California and New York have taken steps to simplify this process. Both of these states allow attorneys licensed in their respective states to issue enforceable subpoenas that are essentially carbon copies of the subpoena issued in the origin state. It is much easier to find local counsel to issue this kind of subpoena than being forced to find the right court, the right court branch, and a clerk who is familiar with the necessary procedures. The UIDDA should be modified to allow local counsel in each state to issue such a subpoena.
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