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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    1

    Default Subponas Open Records and Do They Need Suit

    First my apologies, I really need to avoid disclosing information regarding the matter so understand this will be vague. The state is West Virginia. Does it allow one to subpoena without filing suit? If so can I leave it blank or if not then can I just address it to John Doe or something?

    Lastly, subpoenas are demands to a third party to make documents available to the court does that imply they're public accessible? Should I file a motion to seal in the case that it is sensitive?

    It's weird situation. I'm sorry it's so vague. It's just I need help with the discovery BEFORE filing suit so if I can get subpoenas ordering it to be produced, I feel it could aide my proof proof of something and would help my case.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,254

    Default Re: Subponas Open Records and Do They Need Suit

    Unless you have a court case filed, you can't subpoena anything.

    If you want to avail yourself of open records, you can submit a West Virginia FOIA request.

    Whether you are talking about a subpoena or an FOIA request, you have to address it to the person who has the record (or the responsibility for it). Each agency typically has a custodian of records.
    Here's the state AG's guide: http://ago.wv.gov/Documents/FOIA%20Handbook%20PDF.pdf

    The SOS office has an online database of past FOIA requests https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/FOIAReq.aspx, but you'll have to figure out what the agency is and make the request there.


    If you're talking about the records of a governmental meeting, there's slightly different rules under the Government Procedures Act.

    Note that either way (FOIA, GPA, or Subpoena) you can only request documents that actually already exist. There's no obligation for the state to research, compile, or otherwise generate stuff that doesn't already exist.

    Maybe if you indicated just what you're after, we could give a better answer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,734

    Default Re: Subponas Open Records and Do They Need Suit

    discovery refers to actions taken once a suit has been filed. Without filing suit, there are no court powers available to undertake discovery which is where your powers of subpoena come from. A subpoena is an order from a court to perform as directed. As an individual there is nothing to compel anybody (short of the foia requests or gpa as Ron mentioned which could require a court action to enforce if the entity is reluctant to comply with the request) to give you anything ergo no suit, no subpoena.

    your title and your question regarding sealing the discovery information don’t make sense. If you are speaking of open records, there would be no reason to seal them since they are classified as open (generally accessible to the public) by virtue of what they are.

    If involved in a suit, it may be possible to seek records that are not available as open records. You would have to deal with such records as the court directs. Sealing them from public review would be a possibility. The party holding the records would request they be sealed from public review.

    If seeking records under foia or gpa you would not need an active suit or subpoena to request them. If the holder refuses to provide you with records accessible under foia or gpa, then you may have to file suit to have a court order the records be released to you.


    As ron stated, if you want much of anything that specifically addresses your questions, you will have to explain more of the situation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,222

    Default Re: Subponas Open Records and Do They Need Suit

    Quote Quoting Songbird29
    View Post
    I feel it could aide my proof proof of something and would help my case.
    That's a problem. If you can't even start your suit based on information and documents that you already have, you are destined to lose. Especially if you are suing without a lawyer and are going up against people who know the ropes and have lawyers that know how to steamroll you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1,733

    Default Re: Subponas Open Records and Do They Need Suit

    Quote Quoting Songbird29
    View Post
    Does it allow one to subpoena without filing suit?
    I'm not sure what "it" refers to, but one cannot obtain or properly serve a subpoena without a pending legal action.


    Quote Quoting Songbird29
    View Post
    Lastly, subpoenas are demands to a third party to make documents available to the court does that imply they're public accessible?
    That's one, but not the only, use of a subpoena, and documents produced pursuant to a subpoena would not ordinarily be part of the public court file.


    Quote Quoting Songbird29
    View Post
    I need help
    You should retain or at least consult with an attorney.


    Quote Quoting Songbird29
    View Post
    discovery BEFORE filing suit
    There is no such thing as compulsory pre-litigation discovery.

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