Subpoenas and Legal Documents

This section of the Web page of the Office of the General Counsel is intended to provide faculty and staff of the College with general information only. This information does not supplant the need of faculty and staff of the College from contacting the Office of the General Counsel for real legal advice. If you are involved in any of the situations described in this section of the web page, you should not hesitate to contact the Office of the General Counsel for guidance on the appropriate manner in which to respond to the circumstances of the situation.



Q: I have just received some kind of document that appears either to have been issued by or filed with a court. What should I do?

A: As a general rule, all court papers you receive at the College concerning your work at the College must be promptly brought to the attention of the Office of the General Counsel. The legal document may be a summons, a subpoena, a legal notice, or a complaint (the latter is ordinarily served along with a summons). A "summons" is a legal instrument used to commence a civil action and serves as a notice to the party that an action has been commenced against the person and that the person is required to appear and answer the complaint. A "subpoena" is a written order issued by a court, or officer of the court, or an administrative agency that requires the production of documents and/or attendance of a witness at a trial or hearing. A "legal notice" informs a party of a specific event or set of circumstances that may affect the rights of a party. A "complaint" is a document that states the grounds upon which a legal action has been commenced. The nature of the document you have received will determine the response you may be required to take and should, in all instances, be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel.

Q: I have been contacted by an attorney other than one who is representing the College (or a law enforcement official, or an investigator from a governmental administrative agency). How should I respond?

A: All such parties should be referred to the Office of the General Counsel. When a call is received or a visit is made to your office by an attorney, a law enforcement official or a representative of a regulatory agency, remember to be polite, but do not provide them with any information without notifying the Office of the General Counsel. The College will respond to proper inquiries from these individuals, but there are laws that may preclude us from releasing the information that is being requested - even to law enforcement officials. It is critical that you promptly refer such individuals to the Office of the General Counsel to respond to their inquiries and determine the manner in which a response, if any, is to be made.