Q&A: Reaction to subpoena

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From The News-Banner (Bluffton):

Q: I received a “subpoena duces tecum” from an attorney seeking copies of any and all articles pertaining to a recent shooting death. It came from his office and was signed by him (not a judge).

Am I ordered to do this? Am I obligated by law to gather all this information at my expense? 

A: You’re not compelled to meet his demand since it’s not a judicial order, but don’t ignore it.

I suggest you determine a fair rate for time to collect the information requested, and then contact the attorney and say you’re willing to comply with the subpoena if he’s willing to pay for the cost to collect the information.

If the lawyer went through the court to make the request, there would be a provision for payment; so he should be willing to pay you without having to go through the court to order your cooperation.

I think lawyers often try to get the information free figuring most people will comply with an attorney’s request without asking for compensation.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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