How to Serve Legal Papers on The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

This article will provide guidance on How to Serve Legal Papers on The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stands at the forefront of the United States’ scientific endeavor, focusing on the oceans and atmosphere’s conditions. NOAA’s crucial roles span environmental stewardship, severe weather forecasting, ocean mapping, and the conservation of oceanic and marine resources. When legal proceedings require serving legal papers to NOAA, understanding the correct procedure becomes essential. Click here to watch our introduction video.

Overview of NOAA

As a part of the United States Department of Commerce, NOAA undertakes a wide array of scientific and environmental activities. Its responsibilities include weather forecasting, fisheries management, sea charting, and research to protect natural resources. NOAA not only supports environmental stewardship but also provides critical information and helps manage the nation’s coastal and marine environments. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Subpoenas for Certified Weather Data

  • Data Request: You should address subpoenas that request certified weather data directly to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina. The NCDC, as the custodian of weather records, authenticates meteorological records.
  • Contact Options: You can contact the NCDC by telephone, fax, or email, offering flexibility for legal proceedings.
  • Regulatory Constraints: Federal regulations generally restrict NOAA employees, including those from the National Weather Service (NWS), from serving as witnesses in litigation not involving the United States, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Policy Restrictions: Due to resource and workforce constraints, NOAA tightly controls the issuance of subpoenas. The overwhelming number of testimony requests can impede NOAA’s mission.
  1. Subpoena Issuance: Understand that federal regulations may restrict NOAA employees’ participation in litigation when serving a subpoena. Click here on How To Effectively Handle Summons and Subpoenas in NY
  2. Quash Attempts: The NOAA Office of General Counsel will likely recommend that the U.S. Attorney’s office attempt to quash the subpoena.
  3. Non-Revocation Procedure: If quashing the subpoena proves impossible before its due date, the NOAA employee will receive advice to appear but refrain from testifying, presenting the DOC regulations to the court.

Weather Data Interpretation Requests

  • Certified Documents: State evidence laws often allow the use of NOAA’s certified documents in court without requiring NWS employee testimony.
  • Private Meteorologists: For weather data interpretation, consider hiring a private, certified meteorologist.

Types of Certifications Offered by NCDC

  1. Department of Commerce Certification: This requires the NCDC Records Custodian’s authorization and includes an official seal.
  2. General Certification: A designated officer authorizes this, and it usually suffices for legal purposes without a subpoena.


Understanding the correct procedure for serving legal papers on NOAA is crucial. This involves recognizing the agency’s legal framework and respecting its mission and operational constraints. Whether seeking certified weather data or navigating legal proceedings involving NOAA, adhering to established procedures and acknowledging employee testimony limitations ensures a smooth process. NOAA’s invaluable contribution to environmental science and stewardship merits respectful and informed legal interactions.


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