Author Topic: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?  (Read 13044 times)

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1364
subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« on: November 06, 2015, 06:02:03 PM »
I got a subpoena to appear in a couple weeks.  Problem is I'm leaving next Wednesday to Asia and won't be back for 4 weeks on a non-refundable ticket + some other misc non-refundables (about $2000 worth) and traveling companions that also have non-refundable tickets.

It's basically a homeowner against the HOA, where I used to be on the board.  The case is pretty meritless.  The owners basically served everybody involved ever just to make other people as miserable as them.

I have sent an e-mail to the lawyer that served the papers with the details but haven't heard back from him.

What should I do next?  I really don't want to spend money on a lawyer if I don't have to - my share of the HOA defense costs are already over $2500.  There is a phone number for the judge.  Should I contact that and provide details?

Any advice?  I'd like to resolve before I go on vacation but I'm running out of time.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 06:13:12 PM »
I'm not a lawyer, but I think you want file a continuance with the court. (I have no idea if you're entitled to that as the defendant (or are you a witness?) or not.)

I also suspect that the lawyer who sent you the subpoena is not the right person to ask for advice, since I assume he represents the plaintiff.

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1364
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 06:35:29 PM »
The HOA is the defendant, so basically all owners are.

The hope was that the serving lawyer could cancel it somehow, but I don't know if they have that ability. 

LaineyAZ

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 229
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 06:38:23 PM »
I'm not a lawyer either but I work with them.  Check if the subpoena is for documents only - if yes, then just provide copies of what records you have. 
If no, and they want you to appear to answer questions, see if there's a possibility of doing a Deposition by Written Question.  Some jurisdictions have this and you can simply respond in writing and send it in.  I'd also send a letter in writing, registered mail, to that homeowner's attorney to reiterate that you cannot meet on the requested day - deposition dates get re-scheduled all the time by all parties, so they should be able to accommodate you too. 

Bottom line is you can't ignore a subpoena, but if the attorney is reasonable and you have explained why you can't appear that day - again, in writing - then it should be no big deal to change to a later date when you have returned.

bridget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 09:04:11 PM »
The HOA is the defendant, so basically all owners are.

The hope was that the serving lawyer could cancel it somehow, but I don't know if they have that ability.

Carefully read the papers you were served with. In every state where I've served a subpoena, there is an attached document about your rights as a witness. It explains who you should call/contact if you can't appear. In my state, it includes an "objection" form, which you can use to explain that the subpoena places an undue burden on you. Google [state] + Notice to Person Served with Subpoena, and its variants, if you don't already have an objection form. Call the HOA's lawyer to see if he or she will help you get it worked out. I'm guessing that this is for a deposition, not trial, so this should be something that can be pretty easily worked around your schedule.

Send another email to the plaintiff's lawyer, explaining that you WILL be leaving for Asia, and that you're happy to reschedule for after your trip, but you will NOT be attending the deposition because its an undue burden. If you are going to have email access on your trip, tell him that so you can communicate with him after you leave on Wednesday and get something rescheduled for after you get back.

In my state if you did all of this and the plaintiff's lawyer didn't work with you to reschedule, they would be the one in trouble with the judge, not you.

bridget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2015, 09:07:16 PM »
Addendum: if I'm wrong and it IS for trial, not a deposition, then you can in fact call the Judge's clerk to try to work something out. [Don't ask for the judge directly, just the clerk's office]. Mention that you've tried to contact the plaintiff's lawyer but you won't be available, and ask if they can 1) use your deposition transcript [I can't imagine you're a trial witness and haven't yet been deposed] or 2) have you appear by video conference. Again, if you can get the HOA's lawyer on your side here, it'll be a lot easier/smoother.
 

Bearded Man

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2015, 10:10:04 PM »
Two sides to every story...HOA's suck.

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1364
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2015, 10:12:29 PM »
It is for trial and I was not deposed.  I didn't even know I was on any list until getting the subpoena.  These people are just evil...doing this just to bug us more.

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1364
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 10:14:47 PM »
Two sides to every story...HOA's suck.

Said owners have a suit against another condo they own...they went all the way to the end of arbitration and then rejected.

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1364
Re: subpoenaed - on vacation during trial - what to do next?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2015, 10:43:08 AM »
Thanks everyone for advice.  The e-mail I sent worked - I got a response e-mail from the Plaintiffs lawyer that they will not release me from the case but will go on with the case as scheduled but ask for an extension.  There is a chance after hearing the evidence that there is not enough to warrant an extension at which I will be released (fingers crossed that this will happen). 

This is the thanks for serving on the HOA board and trying to do the right thing.