Discovery Across State Lines Made Easier

May 15, 2015Articles Garden State Gavel Blog

Have the trials and tribulations of preparing commissions and serving out of state subpoenas got you down? Don’t despair!

The Uniform Interstate Deposition and Discovery Act (UIDDA) may be the answer to your prayers.

What is UIDDA?

UIDDA sets forth an efficient and inexpensive procedure for litigants to obtain depositions of and documents from parties who reside outside of the state where litigation is pending.

How does UIDDA work?

In order to seek and procure out of state discovery under the UIDDA, a propounding party must:

1) Request the issuance of a subpoena (usually a standard court form) attaching a foreign subpoena or other similar document, such as an order by the court allowing discovery, issued in the state where the matter is pending; and

2) Submit a subpoena prepared in accordance with the discovery procedures of the foreign state, incorporating the required elements and including the names, addresses and telephone records of all counsel of record or pro se litigants.

The clerk of the court, or a judge, will issue the subpoena which is then served pursuant to the discovery rules of the state in which discovery is sought.

Which states have adopted UIDDA?

Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia , Alabama and Virgin Islands. Adoption is pending in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arkansas.

A few caveats.

1) UIDDA only governs procedures in the state in which the discovery is sought. If the state in which the case is venued requires specific procedures, such as letters rogatory before out of state discovery may take place, UIDDA does not usurp that requirement.

2) UIDDA only governs subpoenas issued by a court of record and doesn’t apply to arbitrations, administrative hearings or similar proceedings.

3) Carefully review the statutes and court rules of the discovery state to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements.

4) Any discovery disputes, such as those involving privilege, are governed by the rules of the discovery state.

Alleluia!

The Act requires minimal judicial oversight and eliminates the need to: (i) obtain a commission or local counsel in the discovery state; (ii) file letters rogatory (unless required in the discovery state) ; or (iii) file a miscellaneous action to issue the subpoena. Also, the issuance of the subpoena does not constitute an appearance in the state in which the discovery is sought, so there is no need to apply for pro hac admission or pay the fees associated with out of state admissions. For more information, visit www.uniformlaws.org.