The University of Mississippi
Office of the University Attorney

Subpoenas

Subpoenas in General
Subpoenas in Mississippi cases
Subpoenas and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)
Subpoenas and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”)
If you are contacted about a subpoena

A subpoena is a written order issued by a court, by an officer of the court, or by an administrative agency that requires the production of documents and/or attendance of a witness at a trial, deposition or hearing. As a rule, all subpoenas or other court papers you receive concerning your work at the University must be promptly brought to the attention of the Office of the University Attorney.

Generally, a subpoena must meet several requirements in order to be valid. Every subpoena must state: the name of the court from which it was issued, the title of the action, the name of the court in which the action is pending, and its civil action number. It must command the person receiving it to attend and give testimony; to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, documents or tangible things in the possession, custody, or control of that person; or to permit inspection of premises, at a time and place specified in the subpoena. Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(a)(1).

Subpoenas in a federal civil case may be served “at any place within the district of the court by which it is issued, or at any place without the district that is within 100 miles of the place of the deposition, hearing, trial, production, or inspection specified in the subpoena or at any place within the state where a state statute or rule of court permits service of a subpoena issued by a state court of general jurisdiction sitting in the place of the deposition, hearing, trial, production, or inspection specified in the subpoena.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(b)(2). If a person fails to obey a subpoena without an adequate excuse, that person may be held in contempt of the court from which the subpoena was issued. An adequate cause for failure to obey exists when a subpoena purports to require a non-party to attend or produce at a place not within the limits provided by the Rules. Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c).

A subpoena in a federal criminal case which requires a witness to attend a hearing or trial “may be served at any place within the United States.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(e). If a witness disobeys a subpoena that was issued by a federal court in that district, without an adequate excuse, the court may hold the witness in contempt. Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(g). Top.

Subpoenas in Mississippi state court cases may require a resident of this State to attend a deposition, production or inspection only in the county where the recipient resides or is employed or transacts his business in person, or at such other convenient place as is fixed by an order of the court. A non-resident of this state subpoenaed within this state may be required to attend only in the county where he is served with the subpoena, or at such other convenient place as is fixed by an order of the court. Miss. R. Civ. P. 45(b). Top.

Subpoenas and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)
If a University employee receives a subpoena seeking materials that include education records that are protected from disclosure by FERPA, they should contact the University Attorney’s office. Prior to any disclosure of education records, the subpoena or order should be reviewed to ensure it is legitimate and enforceable. Before releasing any education records in response to the subpoena, the University must notify the student whose education record is included in the responsive materials about the subpoena, and the University must give the student sufficient time to contest the subpoena, unless the subpoena directs otherwise. The University must also remove from the materials responsive to the subpoena any information that the requester is not entitled to receive, such as information concerning students who are not the subject of the subpoena. For further information about FERPA click here.
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Subpoenas and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”)
A covered entity under HIPAA may disclose protected health information (“PHI”) pursuant to subpoenas, discovery requests, or other civil process only after obtaining “satisfactory assurances” that the requesting party has made reasonable efforts (1) to provide written notice of the request to the individual who is the subject of the request , or (2) to obtain a qualified protective order from the court.

“Satisfactory assurances” of notice to the subject of the request means a written declaration and documentation of the following: a good faith effort to provide the individual with written notice sufficient to permit the subject of the request to raise objections to disclosure; the individual’s failure to raise a timely objection following notice; or the resolution of the individual’s objection by the court or other tribunal. “Satisfactory assurances” of efforts to obtain a qualified protective order means a written declaration and documentation of an order submitted to a court either jointly by the parties or by the requesting party. A “qualified protective order” is an order of a court that prohibits the use of PHI for any purpose other than the case in which the order is issued. A qualified protective order must also provide for the return or destruction of PHI at the end of the litigation. Disclosures pursuant to subpoenas, discovery requests and other process are subject to the “minimum necessity” standard under HIPAA. Only PHI expressly called for by the request may be disclosed or made available to the requesting party. For further information on HIPAA click here.
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If you are contacted about a subpoena
If a University employee receives a subpoena regarding medical records or regarding any other matter, that employee should immediately contact the Office of the University Attorney.Top.