Skip navigation; go directly to the content A-Z indexTable of contents
  
HomechaptersTriageHistoryPhysical ExaminationLaboratoryRadiologyDiagnosisDocumentationReportingFoster CareChildren and Adolescents with DisabilitiesJuvenile Sexualized BehaviorMultidisciplinary ApproachLegal Issues Legal Issues:  Overview Legal Issues: Consent by Mature or Emancipated Minors Legal Issues: Protective Custody Legal Issues: Medical Records Legal Issues: Confidential and Privileged Communication Legal Issues: Subpoenas Legal Issues: The Judicial System Legal Issues: Testifying as a Fact Witness Legal Issues: Testifying as an Expert Legal Issues: Testifying in Court Legal Issues: Additional Resources AppendicesspacerAbout UsContactAcknowledgementsSupport and Endorsement  

LEGAL ISSUES: Subpoenas

Witnesses are called to testify in court through the issuance of a subpoena, sometimes delivered by a process server. Subpoenas may be issued by a grand jury or a court. Often, attorneys will issue subpoenas on behalf of a court. Subpoenas may require an individual to appear in court or may require an individual to bring records to court.

The target of a subpoena can appear in court requesting that the subpoena be quashed. The court may agree to do so if there is some legal restriction, such as physician-patient privilege or statutory protection for a record, as in drug treatment programs; the subpoena is overbroad; or the witness is unlikely to be able to provide material, relevant information. You can also contact the attorney issuing the subpoena. In some instances, it will become apparent that you do not have any information that is new or relevant to the case. In these instances, the attorney can withdraw the subpoena or reach an agreement that only portions of the record are needed.

Do not assume that upon receipt of a subpoena that you should immediately photocopy a patient record and turn it over. A subpoena does not necessarily overrule your obligation of privilege to a patient. If you believe that the information is privileged, that the patient does not want it revealed, and/or that some information in the record is irrelevant or harmful, it is your obligation to argue to the court, through a motion to quash the subpoena, that the record should not be submitted. In making these determinations, it is also important to remember that any document turned over to the court will be turned over to all parties, including the accused.

There are few instances in child abuse cases when a court will allow the restriction of relevant and material evidence, particularly a medical record, to be protected from discovery. In cases where there is a dispute as to whether a record should be turned over, the court may choose to review the record in chambers and make a determination regarding what, if any, information should be submitted. This in camera review is prior to turning the records over to the parties.

No subpoena should be ignored. If you have an attorney or are part of a hospital with an attorney, contact the attorney whenever a subpoena is received. Inform office staff regarding their responsibility when a subpoena is delivered. In a hospital setting, there should be protocols for issuance of medical records after a subpoena.

to top of page



 
 

 

line

© 2005-2018 All Rights Reserved
www.ChildAbuseMD.com
champ@upstate.edu
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Syracuse, New York

line
 

Legal Issues: Overview  Legal Issues: Consent by Mature or Emancipated Minors  Legal Issues: Protective Custody  Legal Issues: Medical Records  Legal Issues: Confidential and Privileged Communication  Legal Issues: Subpoenas  Legal Issues: Judicial System  Legal Issues: Testifying as a Fact Witness   Legal Issues: Testifying as an Expert  Legal Issues: Testifying in Court  Legal Issues: Additional Resources 

Home  Table of Contents  Triage  History  Physical Examination  Laboratory  Radiology  Diagnosis  Treatment and Follow-Up  Documentation  Reporting  Foster Care  Children & Adolescents with Disabilities  Juvenile Sexualized Behavior  Multidisciplinary Approach  Legal Issues  Appendices  About Us  Contact  Acknowledgements  Support & Endorsements  Site Index