Subpoena Duces Tecum

Subpoena Duces Tecum Bd. of Educ. v Hankins, 294 A.D.2d 360 From time to time one reads about a case involving the serving of a subpoena duces tecum. The purpose of a subpoena duces tecum is to compel the production of documents that are relevant and material to facts at issue in a pending judicial or administrative proceeding. On occasion a hearing officer may be asked to issue a subpoena duces tecum in the course of a disciplinary action. Sometimes an attorney will attempt to obtain such information by serving an "attorney's subpoena" on the employer. To obtain state documents, however, a judicial subpoena duces tecum — i.e., a subpoena issued by a court having jurisdiction — is required if the State entity holding the documents sought by the employee declines to provide them when requested to do so. Alfred Hankins, a New York City schoolteacher, was served with disciplinary charges pursuant to Section 3020-a of the Education Law. In the course of the disciplinary hearing, Hankins served a subpoena duces tecum on the New York City Board of Education requiring it to produce the names and addresses of certain students. The Board asked Supreme Court to quash the subpoena duces tecum served upon it by Hankins, The court granted the motion to quash. The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's decision quashing Hankins' subpoena. The problem here, said the Appellate Division, is that Hankin attempted to use the subpoena duces tecum improperly. Such a subpoena, said the court, "may not be used for purposes of discovery or to ascertain the existence of evidence." In this instance, said the court, Hankins wanted the subpoena in order "to discover the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the students in the class on the day or days when his misconduct allegedly occurred." Accordingly, concluded the court, the subpoena was properly quashed by Supreme Court.

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