The Risk Management address for Service of Legal Documents is:
Huntington Beach Union High School DistrictAttn: Risk Management Department5832 Bolsa AvenueHuntington Beach, CA 92649
Who should I contact if I have a process server at my door, or if I know nothing about process service on campus?
If a process server is "at your door"and you know nothing about service of process, and the document does not look familiar to you (even if it may look legal), you are not obligated to accept documents. Refer the individual serving the document to the District's Office of Risk Management (address above) for them to present/serve the documents. Further, if you receive a phone call from an attorney’s office or from a company handling service of process of subpoenas and summons and complaints, refer them to District Risk Management at (714) 903-7000 Ext. 504370.
What is service of process?
Service of process involves delivery of a special type of court order to an individual or company ("entity"). Service of process can involve either a "Summons and Complaint" initiating a lawsuit, or a "Subpoena" requesting that business records be turned over and/or that personal testimony be given, or a personal appearance be made. These are the types of service most likely encountered in our District.
What is required for service of process?
Formal personal delivery of documents for both types of service (Summons and Complaint, Subpoenas) is required and important because these documents impose legal obligations on the person or entity they are delivered to. Failure to comply with these court orders can result in penalties
What is service of a Summons and Complaint?
Service of a Summons and Complaint is a process to compel someone to appear in court to defend him/her/itself against a lawsuit. It involves presenting to the person or entity sued (the 'defendant' ) a Complaint in which the person suing (the 'plaintiff' ) describes its legal claims and should always be accompanied by a Summons, requiring a defendant to respond in court. There are very specific requirements for serving a lawsuit on a defendant. Plaintiffs frequently hire a professional process server to comply with these requirements.
How should I respond to a Summons and Complaint delivered to my school?
If a process server attempts service of a Summons and Complaint on any District entity (High School or Adult School, or Department) they should be directed to Risk Services. Risk Services requires that the Summons and Complaint be delivered directly to the District. Summons and Complaint for individuals, such as colleagues or managers may not be accepted by anyone (outside of Risk Management ) on behalf of that fellow employee. If any doubt about personal delivery of a Summons and Complaint, contact Risk Management at Ext. 504370.
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person or entity to testify as a witness at a specified time and place (at a deposition, trial, or other hearing), and/or to produce documents or other tangible objects in a legal proceeding. Subpoenas are time-sensitive with court-imposed deadlines.
Who can issue a subpoena?
It can be issued by any attorney, a self-represented individual, or a service hired by an attorney, using court-supplied forms. Subpoenas can be issued in criminal cases, in private (“civil”) lawsuits; they may also be issued by government agencies conducting their own investigations and proceedings, civil, administrative or criminal.
If a Subpoena is issued, does it mean the District is being sued?
Not necessarily—subpoenas are often issued to persons or entities who are not parties to the lawsuit, known as "third parties." The District is often served with these "third party" subpoenas.
Who may accept service of a subpoena?
The typical subpoena issued and served on the District is a subpoena for records and may be addressed to the "Custodian of Records" or to a department with a physical location listed (such as Registrar's Office). This type of subpoena should be personally served, and accepted by the appropriate custodian familiar with records production requirements. It may also be accepted by others in a campus department with authority over those records.
If the subpoena is directed to me, personally, can someone else accept service on my behalf?
A subpoena to a particular named person rather than the District can only be accepted by that person.Aside from a waiver of personal service, the law requires personal service of every subpoena. Service in less formal ways, such as by fax or mail, should not generally be accepted.
Are there different types of Subpoenas?
Yes – there are three kinds of subpoenas.
Are there special considerations when Student, Employee or Consumer records are subpoenaed?
Yes. There are special rules that apply when these kinds of records are subpoenaed which requires the party issuing the subpoena to notify the individual (or his/her/its attorney) whose records are sought before the records can be disclosed. The District is also required to give reasonable notice to an individual whose records are requested before complying with the subpoena's request(s). Certain campus departments are familiar with these special rules, e.g., the Registrar's Office and District Risk Services.
Do I always need to consult with District when responding to subpoenas?
Generally Yes - although school registrars are familiar with many of these rules. This is important when the subpoena seeks individual student, employee or consumer records, medical or mental health information, or other information that appears highly sensitive or raises privacy concerns. School offices that regularly receive subpoenas for certain types of records and that have received guidance from Risk Management or Counsel in the past may respond without consulting Risk Management if they are confident they are aware of the applicable rules and the subpoena appears valid.
You are encouraged to contact Risk Management if you have any questions or concerns about responding to a subpoena, whether in regards to manner of service, or records being requested.
What are the deadlines for responding to a subpoena?
An individual served with a subpoena duces tecum or deposition subpoena is normally given a reasonable time to respond. A valid subpoena will provide, in accordance with the statute, a response date and location. Any question about validity, contact Risk Management at Ext. 504370.
What if I have no records to produce as described in the subpoena?
A named individual (responder) is only obligated to produce documents which exist and are already under his/her custody and control. You are not required to create documents that do not exist, or to procure documents not in your or your department’s possession or control. If the documents called for do not exist or are not in the possession or control of the individual subpoenaed, the responder should notify the subpoenaing party of this fact in writing.
Subpoenas may attach an "Affidavit of No Records" that can be completed by the custodian if in fact no responsive records exist under the custodian's control. If such an affidavit of no records is not attached to the subpoena and you need to submit it, contact Risk Management for a form affidavit that can be signed and submitted to the requesting party or to the court declaring that no records exist that are not responsive to the subpoena's request.
Can I negotiate the scope of the documents requested in a subpoena?
It is possible to negotiate the scope of records to be released in response to a subpoena. Oftentimes, a party issuing a subpoena ("requestor") is on a "fishing expedition" with no idea what documents exist or how files are organized. The requestor may have no interest in spending time reviewing extraneous documents, and may be satisfied, after a conversation, with something less than what is called for in the initial request. However, be very careful not to negotiate production of anything beyond what is called for in the subpoena, unless you are certain that the additional documents are public records. Consult Risk Management for guidance regarding the scope of a subpoena’s requests.
What about documents that may be subject to privilege or non-disclosure?
In most cases, the District is obligated to comply with a subpoena duces tecum or deposition subpoena served upon it. However, in certain circumstances a particular document may be subject to a privilege which does not permit the District to disclose without first obtaining permission of the holder of the privilege, or if that privilege has somehow been waived. The most common privileges to arise in a District setting are the physician-patient privilege, the psychotherapist-patient privilege, and the attorney-client privilege.Failure to assert a privilege not to disclose confidential information could subject the District to liability for invasion of privacy or breach of a confidential relationship. Risk Management should be consulted about what privilege might apply, and/or whether a privilege applies.
Will I get paid for giving testimony required by a subpoena?
When a full-time employee is served with a subpoena which compels the employee's presence as a witness and the subpoena relates to the employee’s District employment, the employee shall be granted leave with pay for actual time spent at the proceeding and for related travel.
A part-time employee in a career position shall be granted leave with pay for time spent at the proceeding and for related travel which occurs during the employee's regularly scheduled working hours.
What if I am required to turn over original documents?
In most cases, it is not required that original documents be turned over in response to a subpoena.Technically, a subpoena requires production of original documents, but often the requester will be satisfied with copies, and this can clearly be negotiated with the requester.If originals are required, a District employee usually goes with the originals to the place of production to ensure that documents are not lost or misplaced; or the requester comes to the District office where the records reside and inspects/copies them on-site. A District employee should be present at all times during the copying and inspection of original documents.
What about the cost of producing the records that comply with the subpoena?
The subpoenaing party is responsible for costs incurred by the District in responding to a subpoena, as follows:
Witness Fees In Civil Case - If the witness is required to personally accompany the documents requested in a subpoena duces tecum for a deposition or trial in a civil action, the witness is entitled to all normal allowable daily fees (currently $35.00) plus mileage actually traveled (currently $0.20 per mile), both ways, at the prevailing rate, and any additional costs incurred. (Gov. Code § 68093.)
Witness Fees In Criminal Cases - When a witness is required to personally accompany documents requested by a subpoena duces tecum in a criminal case, the witness is entitled to any fees normally paid by that court.
Fees For Production Of Business Records
Contact Risk Management if you have any questions regarding fees/charges for producing records.
What are the penalties if you ignore a subpoena, or don’t comply?
Failure to respond to a subpoena is punishable as contempt by either the court or agency issuing the subpoena. Punishment may include monetary sanctions (even imprisonment although extremely unlikely). Generally, a hearing will be held where the party charged with noncompliance has an opportunity to explain its side of the story, and the court or agency has broad discretion to determine an appropriate punishment given the circumstances presented. In most cases in a contempt proceeding, the court determines the appropriateness of withholding any documents under a claim of privilege. In such cases, the outcome is more likely to be an order to produce, coupled with an award of attorneys’ fees to the party that had to initiate contempt proceedings.