HOW TO DOMESTICATE A FOREIGN SUBPOENA IN OKLAHOMA
This article will provide guidance on How To Domesticate a Foreign Subpoena in Oklahoma. Promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 2007, the UIDDA Oklahoma proposes to ‘make it more effective and affordable to depose out-of-state people and to provide discoverable evidence situated out of the trial state.’ House Bill 2229 was signed into law by Governor J. Kevin Stitt on April 23, 2021. This legislation made Oklahoma the forty-fifth state (including DC and the Virgin Islands) to sign on to the UIDDA.
The UIDDA, now law in most of the country, harmonizes state subpoena discovery practice with the uniform subpoena system set out in Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA)-Oklahoma
The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA) is a useful instrument for overcoming UIDDA and Oklahoma jurisdictional barriers that, before its enactment, greatly increased the expense and difficulty of seeking a source of evidence (often deposition testimony and documents) across state borders. Before, a letter of rogatory and commission was often needed when seeking discovery in another state, as per the UIDDA and Oklahoma. This included filing a motion, with some courts needing a hearing before granting an order enabling discovery to be conducted out of state. As additional evidence accumulated from other states, this UIDDA and Oklahoma procedure would need to be repeated.
It was usual practice to hire local counsel after receiving a letter rogatory or commission to help with subpoena practice in the foreign jurisdiction to comply with the UIDDA and Oklahoma procedures. In order for the court in the foreign jurisdiction to establish jurisdiction and issue the subpoena, it may be necessary to pay a filing fee to initiate an unrelated action, as is the case in certain countries.
The UIDDA can be used with little difficulty. As a whole, the legislation is brief, and it defines all of the phrases of significance that appear within it. UIDDA terminology designates the state or country outside of Oklahoma where discovery is sought as the ‘foreign jurisdiction’ and the UIDDA and Oklahoma subpoena to be served on a foreign state or country as the ‘foreign subpoena.’
HOW IS A FOREIGN SUBPOENA SUBMITTED IN OKLAHOMA
It is required that a party submit a foreign subpoena to a clerk of court in the county in which discovery is sought in Oklahoma. The UIDDA and Oklahoma mandate that after the clerk receives the international subpoena, ‘the clerk must quickly issue a subpoena for service against the person to whom the foreign subpoena is addressed, in line with the process of that court.’ An Oklahoma subpoena must ‘incorporate the terms used in the foreign subpoena; and contain or be accompanied by the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all counsel of record in the proceeding with which the subpoena related and of any party not represented by counsel.’ The foreign attorney's signature block and certificate of service may readily fulfill the need for counsel for the parties to be named.
The UIDDA once again incorporates the wording of 12 O.S. 2004.1 to explain the responsibilities of an Oklahoma resident who has received such a subpoena. An objector to a recently issued subpoena in Oklahoma may -following the serving of the subpoena in accordance with UIDDA and Oklahoma law- petition the court that issued the subpoena for a protective order or to quash or alter the subpoena. The party issuing the subpoena might seek enforcement of the subpoena from the same court. The UIDDA and Oklahoma legislation requires that discovery issues involving subpoenas be settled in the venue where discovery is being sought.
HOW TO SERVE A DOMESTIC SUBPOENA IN OKLAHOMA
Any subpoena issued must identify the issuing court and the name of the lawsuit and require the attendance and testimony of all persons to whom it is directed. A UIDDA and Oklahoma subpoena may be issued and served anywhere in the state from the court where the matter is ongoing. Subpoenas may be issued for the people identified or described in a notice to take deposition so long as service of the UIDDA and Oklahoma notice has been shown.
The district court will issue subpoenas in aid of discovery in action for the county in which the production or inspection is to be made if the action is pending outside of the laws of UIDDA and Oklahoma state. Subpoenas for production or inspection may be issued upon proper showing of proof of serving a notice of request for the production of documents in lieu of a deposition. Any party requesting judicial assistance or review of the issuance or execution of a subpoena issued in aid of discovery for an action proceeding outside of the UIDDA and Oklahoma process service may do so upon filing a civil action and paying the requisite costs.
If a party requests a subpoena or a subpoena for the production of documentary evidence, the clerk will issue a signed and sealed but otherwise blank document to that party. A subpoena issued on behalf of a court may be issued and signed by any attorney admitted to practice law in Oklahoma.
Suppose the plaintiff wishes to serve a subpoena for the production of documentary evidence on any person who is not a party before the expiration of thirty (30) days after UIDDA and Oklahoma service of the summons and petition upon any defendant. In that case, the plaintiff must first obtain leave of court for the issuance of the subpoena. In the absence of a written objection to the introduction of court records by a party before trial, a court clerk following UIDDA and Oklahoma law will not be subject to a subpoena in matters relating to court records unless the court makes a specific finding that the appearance and testimony of the court clerk are both material and necessary.
SERVICE OF A SUBPOENA IN OKLAHOMA
Subpoenas should be served onto a witness by handing or sending a copy of the subpoena to the witness and, if the witness's presence is required, by paying the witness the fees for one (1)day of attendance and the mileage authorized by UIDDA and Oklahoma law. Any individual aged eighteen (18) or older may serve a subpoena. All parties must be given a copy of any subpoena that, among other things, requires the presentation of evidence or the examination of premises before trial. Subpoenas that require the production of documents and things or the inspection of premises from a nonparty prior to trial but do not require the attendance of a witness must include the following language and set a date that is at least seven (7) days after the date that the subpoena and copies of the subpoena are served on the witness and all parties.
To serve a subpoena by mail, it is necessary to send a copy to the witness's last known address via certified mail, return the receipt desired, and specify that the subpoenaed document is only to be delivered to that witness. Subpoenas must be shown and served to the court as soon as possible and, in any case, before the witness is called to testify. Anyone other than a sheriff or deputy sheriff who makes service must swear to the fact that they did so.
Subpoenas may be served by mail, in which case the evidence of UIDDA and Oklahoma service must include the date and location of mailing, as well as a copy of the return receipt proving that the subpoena was received. Although it is not necessary to provide evidence of UIDDA and Oklahoma service in order for a subpoena to be legal, service by mail will not be considered complete if the subpoenaed party fails to accept the subpoena when it is delivered. Whether UIDDA and Oklahoma service is done by the sheriff, a deputy sheriff, or another individual, the expense of service will be reimbursed. At the completion of the testimony, fees and travel must be paid to the witness out of money provided to the state agency, board, commission, or legislative committee that issued the subpoena.
OUT-OF-STATE DISCOVERY FOR A SUBPOENA
The first step in carrying out UIDDA and Oklahoma discovery in a foreign jurisdiction in accordance with the UIDDA is to identify the version of the UIDDA that has been adopted in that jurisdiction. The UIDDA is statewide. Still, there may be some differences, so it is always a good idea, to begin with, the actual words of the law in the state where discovery is being sought.. The UIDDA does offer court clerks some latitude with regard to ‘that court's process for issuing a subpoena according to that state's version of the UIDDA. The steps used to get discovery under the UIDDA might thus vary at the discretion of the individual requesting it.
The court clerk often requires a letter invoking the local UIDDA and a nominal fee before the foreign subpoena may be issued. The clerk should issue a local subpoena consistent with the Oklahoma subpoena once they get it. The local subpoena will be returned to counsel for service in accordance with the foreign jurisdiction's rules on subpoena service. Again, this will need researching UIDDA and Oklahoma rules on subpoena serving.
Hiring a local process server to effectuate serving of the subpoena in line with state law is another option for assuring compliance with the UIDDA and Oklahoma laws of a foreign state in this respect. The individual should also consider the time it takes to send the subpoena from Oklahoma to the foreign jurisdiction, have a local subpoena issued, and then send the freshly issued subpoena back to Oklahoma. If they choose to send a subpoena to a witness rather than hire a private process server to deliver it, give them plenty of time to respond.
The UIDDA makes it easier for lawyers in other states to issue UIDDA and Oklahoma subpoenas for documents and depositions in Oklahoma. Subpoenas issued in Oklahoma in connection with a case proceeding in another state are a near certainty if their business entails aiding Oklahoma clients with subpoena compliance. Subpoenas issued in Oklahoma are legally binding as long as they follow the state's UIDDA. It is then up to Oklahoma county, where the subpoena was issued, to hear any disputes over its execution.
OKLA.STAT. ANN. Tit 12, § 2004.1(A)(2)(a)
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1. This Oklahoma legislation, found in 12 O.S. 3250, et seq., is more often known as the Uniform Deposition and Discovery Act (UIDDA) and becomes effective on November 1, 2021. (OSCN 2022).
2. In the context of personal injury lawsuits, where a non-resident plaintiff wounded in Oklahoma and filed suit may have received medical attention and treatment from many healthcare providers in their home state, this procedure may be extremely onerous. Suppose the individual needs to get medical records or take a doctor's deposition, and a new doctor is involved. In that case, they will need to ask the district court in Oklahoma for a fresh letter of rogatory and commission.
3. The UIDDA includes in its definition of ‘subpoena’ the ability to issue a subpoena for a deposition, a subpoena duces tecum, or a subpoena to examine the property. The UIDDA broadly defines ‘person’ to include ‘individuals,’ ‘corporations,’ ‘business trusts,’ ‘estates,’ ‘trusts,’ ‘partnerships,’ ‘limited liability companies,’ ‘associations,’ ‘joint ventures,’ ‘public corporations,’ ‘governmental entities,’ and ‘any other legal or commercial organization.’ 9
4. What must happen for an out-of-state subpoena to be recognized in Oklahoma is spelled forth in Chapter 12, Section 3252.
5. Take note of the required wording requiring the clerk to issue an Oklahoma subpoena without undue delay, with the clerk's discretion allowed only to the degree that they are acting ‘in line with that court's process.’
6. as stated in Section 12 O.S. 3252(C)(1-2)
7. For example, under the UIDDA, a foreign lawyer ‘does not constitute a presence in the courts of [Oklahoma]’ when he or she requests that a subpoena be issued in Oklahoma.
8. The international subpoena must be served in line with 12 O.S. 2004.1 once an Oklahoma subpoena is issued with terms identical to those in the foreign subpoena
9. Requests to enforce, quash, or alter the subpoena must be ‘filed in the county in which discovery is to be undertaken,’ and any litigation relating to the subpoena must follow the ‘rules or laws of this state,’ as stated in Section 3255.
10. Again, following Rule 45
11. As well as the production and inspection of specified books, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things in the possession, custody, or control of such persons, or the inspection of premises at the time and place specified therein. Information kept digitally may be required to be produced in one or more formats, which may be specified in the subpoena.
12. 15 12 O.S. 3256 adds, ‘In implementing and construing this uniform act, regard must be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among states that pass it,’ further emphasizing the UIDDA's focus on similar countrywide subpoena processes. The Oklahoma courts, according to this clause, should interpret the UIDDA in a way that is consistent with the decisions of courts in other jurisdictions. It also seems that, in accordance with this clause, foreign case law should be considered informative when interpreting the UIDDA
13. Thus, each state should adopt a version that is consistent with 12 O.S. 3250, et seq
OKLA.STAT. ANN. Tit 12, § 2004.1(A)(2)(a)
Oklahoma requires the submission of proof of service of a deposition notice with an application to the district court for the county in Oklahoma where the deposition is to occur. Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 2004.1(A)(2)(a). A witness served with a subpoena in Oklahoma can be compelled to attend a deposition in the witness’s county of residence, any county adjoining the witness’s county of residence or the county where the witness is located when the subpoena is served. Okla. Stat. tit. 12, §3230(B)(1) (cited by Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § 2004.1(A)(3)).