What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a legal document that commands a person or entity to testify as a witness (at a deposition, trial, or other hearing, at a particular time and place), and/or to produce documents or other tangible objects in a legal proceeding. It is equivalent to a direct order from a court.

What are the Different Types of Subpoenas?

In general, there are three different types of subpoenas:

  1. An “appearance only” subpoena, requiring only the personal attendance of a witness;
  2. A “records only” subpoena, requiring only the production of documents, and not a witness; and
  3. An “appearance and records” subpoena, requiring both the personal attendance of a witness and the production of documents.

A subpoena seeking production of documents, with or without a witness appearance, is sometimes referred to as “subpoena duces tecum.”

Who May Accept Service of a Subpoena?

A subpoena to Cal Poly Humboldt for records will be accepted by the campus Subpoena Coordinator, Joy Finney, Office of the President, Siemens Hall 221, or the backup Subpoena Coordinator, Michelle Anderson, Administrative Affairs, Student & Business Services Building 337.

A subpoena to a particular person can only be accepted by that person. There are three important exceptions to this requirement.

If a subpoena is addressed to any of the following entities, then it needs to be served upon:

The CSU, CSU Board of Trustees, or the Humboldt President Office of General Counsel
California State University, Office of the Chancellor
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach, CA  90802
University Police Department Cal Poly Humboldt Police Department
1 Harpst Street, Student Business Services Building 101
Arcata, CA  95521
If the subpoenaed person is a peace officer who is subpoenaed to testify about an event or transaction which he/she witnessed or investigated as a peace officer The subpoena may be served by delivering two copies to his/her immediate superior or an agent designed to receive subpoenas at the University Police Department, who must then deliver a copy to the peace officer.
If the subpoenaed person is a state employee who is subpoenaed to testify about something he/she has gained expertise in during the course of his/her duties A subpoena may be served by delivering two copies to the employee’s immediate superior or an agent designated to receive subpoenas (the campus Subpoena Coordinator).
If the person is a state employee who is subpoenaed to testify about something they perceived (e.g. saw, heard, smelled, touched) while at work or for personal matters State employees who are being subpoenaed for their everyday, percipient knowledge must be personally served.

Any employee that receives or inadvertently accepts a subpoena meant for someone else shall write the date and time on the package and immediately hand-deliver it to the Subpoena Coordinator or that individual, as appropriate.

Except as noted above, the law requires personal service of every subpoena. Service in less formal ways, such as by fax or mail, should not be accepted.

How much does it cost to obtain subpoenaed records or an appearance?

Fees vary depending on who or what is being requested.

Where is the Campus Subpoena Coordinator Office Located?

The campus Subpoena Coordinator office is located at: Office of the President, Cal Poly Humboldt, 1 Harpst Street, Siemens Hall 221, Arcata, CA 95521. The backup Subpoena Coordinator is located in SBS 337. Please note that the Subpoena Coordinator does not accept service by mail, fax or email.

For more information, contact:

  • Mail: Send to the above address
  • E-Mail: Send to:
  • In-Person: Visit the above address
  • Phone: (707) 826-3300

This information is a guide and provides information for the appropriate response to process servers in most situations. Questions about individual situations involving service of process or subpoenas should be directed to the campus Subpoena Coordinator at 707-826-3300.