Last week a question was posted on a consumer website that allows lawyers to answer  questions posted by people looking for information. First , please do not rely on answers from attorneys on websites as legal advice. The lawyers might not know all the facts or could be lawyers from another state. The question asked  was " Is a subpoena valid if it is served by telephone." Subpoenas are a order directing a person to come to court or to come to court with certain things such as records or other tangible evidence.

Subpoenas are issued by telephone routinely in Nashville Davidson County Tennessee General Sessions Courts . Once I read the question ,  I realized that I did not know the answer. Rule 17 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure . The rule does not speak to  service of a subpoena by telephone , however  it does address manner of service. Here is an excerpt from the rule;

(f) Service.

(1) Method of Service. A subpoena may be served by any person authorized to serve process, or the witness may acknowledge service in writing on the subpoena. The server shall deliver or offer to deliver a copy of the subpoena to the person to whom it is directed or leave a copy with an adult occupant of the person’s usual residence

The rule sets forth that the server shall deliver a copy of the subpoena or offer to deliver a subpoena . In using a telephone to serve a subpoena , it is common sense that the person subpoenaed does not get a copy. The question is does the person on the phone offer to deliver a copy. There is no clear answer to the question. It appears that if the server did not offer to deliver a copy of the subpoena , the service of the subpoena may be invalid .

Tomorrow, Is a subpoena served out of state valid ?