Common Mistakes that Nullify Subpoenas in New York

A subpoena is used to command a person to appear in court to testify, answer questions at a deposition, or provide documents relevant to the case. Regardless of the purpose of the subpoena, it is critical that the intended party receives it.

A simple error in the process of a subpoena may render it invalid, causing unnecessary delays in the case. Here are some examples of common mistakes that render subpoenas invalid:

Giving the Subpoena to the Wrong Person

While it seems like ensuring that they’re delivering the subpoena to the right person seems easy, matters can complicate this. For instance, the person being served may have a very common name, such as John Smith, or the name is correct, but the physical description does not match what was provided. It’s also possible that the person who claimed to be John Smith and received the papers was not in fact him but someone else, such as a friend or roommate.

This type of mistake is typically committed by novice process servers or individuals tasked to deliver the subpoena, such as a friend or relative. To avoid this, make sure to choose an experienced process server. They would go to great lengths to ensure that they have the right person, such as verifying their address, talking to their neighbors and friends, and going through public records.

Suppose the subpoena is not delivered to the right person. In that case, it could result in delays to the legal proceedings, including additional time spent waiting as process of service is attempted again. Also, the defendant or respondent can request the judge to dismiss the case for bad service, forcing your legal team to start over.

Failing to Verify Service 

In New York, the person who serves the subpoena must fill out an Affidavit of Service. This document contains details about the delivery of the subpoena, such as the date and time. The courts require this document to be notarized.

Providing inaccurate information on the Affidavit of Service, failing to have it notarized, or not filing it with the court can nullify the subpoena. The Affidavit of Service is considered proof that the subpoena was delivered to the intended recipient. Without it, the person subpoenaed can claim that they didn’t receive it. This may lead the judge to postpone or even cancel the proceedings.

Disclosing Impending Process Service: A Critical Error

Disclosing the impending process service to the defendant or respondent is a serious mistake that can nullify subpoenas in New York. Revealing details about the service to the involved party compromises the element of surprise, diminishing the effectiveness of the legal action. 

This mistake may provide an opportunity for the defendant to evade service intentionally, hindering the smooth progression of legal proceedings. That is why maintaining confidentiality in the process service is important.  Lawyers and process servers must exercise caution, ensuring that the element of surprise remains intact to uphold the integrity of the legal process and avoid potential complications in court.

Not Serving the Papers Properly

Improper service of legal papers poses a significant challenge in the legal landscape, potentially jeopardizing the entire legal process. Several common mistakes in serving papers can nullify subpoenas and undermine the pursuit of justice.

Papers Not Received

One of the gravest mistakes that nullifies subpoenas in New York is when the papers are not received by the intended party. This could be due to an inaccurate address, failure to locate the respondent, or other logistical issues. In such cases, the legal proceedings are compromised, and the court may dismiss the case, emphasizing the importance of precise and effective service.

Plaintiff Serving the Papers

Allowing the plaintiff to serve their legal papers is another misstep. The legal system demands an impartial and unbiased approach to service. Allowing the interested party to deliver the papers risks manipulation or intimidation, undermining the fairness of the proceedings.

Non-Professional Individual or Unrelated Person Serving

Having a non-professional or someone unrelated to the respondent serve the papers is a common mistake. Professional process servers are trained to adhere to legal guidelines, ensuring proper documentation and verification of service. Relying on unqualified individuals risks incomplete or improperly executed service, rendering the legal action null and void.

Papers Only Sent via Mail

Another error is serving legal papers solely through the mail, without a personal touch. Personal service ensures that the respondent knows the legal action and its implications. Mailed documents may go unnoticed, leading to inadvertent default judgments or an unjust legal outcome.

Papers Served Personally but Not Mailed

Conversely, serving papers personally but neglecting to send a formal copy via mail is also a mistake. Mailed documents serve as a formal record of the service and provide an additional layer of legal documentation, strengthening the case and ensuring compliance with procedural requirements.

Papers Given on a Sunday

Serving legal papers on a Sunday can be a procedural misstep. In some jurisdictions, serving papers on Sundays or other specified days may not be legally valid. Adhering to local regulations regarding service timing is crucial to maintaining the legality of the process and avoiding potential complications.

Not Knowing the Laws Governing Out-of-State Subpoenas 

New York is one of the states that have enacted the Uniform Interstate and International Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA). This created simple procedures for a court in one state to issue subpoenas for depositions from persons out of state.

For states under the UIDDA, litigants must present a subpoena to a court clerk in the state where deposition or documents are sought.

A subpoena requesting a deposition or documents in a state outside New York requires knowledge of both New York and the state where the person being subpoenaed resides. For this reason, some people choose to hire attorneys in the other state to take care of the matter. However, this is costly and can require significant back and forth between the attorney, the litigant, and the courts.

lawyerTrustworthy and Experienced Process Servers 

To help ensure that a subpoena is served in compliance with New York laws, hire a seasoned, reliable, and honest process server to deliver the subpoena is the wisest choice. A licensed process server removes the need to hire an attorney to serve out-of-state subpoenas, and prevents the pitfalls of common mistakes like serving the wrong person and failing to verify service.

Serve Index LLC has a team of licensed and skilled process servers who work with integrity and attention to detail. Our law support agency’s satisfied clients include law firms, corporations, and civilians.

Regardless of whether you need a subpoena served within New York or out of state, you can rely on our team to avoid mistakes that can lead to the derailment of your case.

Reach out to us today to get more information about our subpoena service or to learn more about our No-Hassle Service Guarantee.

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