Following in the footsteps of the federal courts and several other states, Nebraska recently adopted statutory language allowing attorneys to issue subpoenas.
LB 509 made drastic changes to the existing statutory framework. In addition to granting attorneys the power to issues subpoenas, the bill “revises the statute to eliminate the uncertainty about whether a district court judge can issue a subpoena and also makes it explicit that the court that can issue the subpoena is the one in which the action or proceeding is pending.” The bill also supplemented information on the availability of witness fees and how to obtain them. Finally, it allows for service of a subpoena by a non-party—before, only a public official could serve the subpoena. So how can this rule change help your case?
Subpoenas are used to get information from another person or entity when informal methods haven’t gotten the job done. Oftentimes, a lawsuit starts as nothing more than a feeling that something, somewhere went wrong: you were fired but don’t know why; the business you made a deal with suddenly isn’t holding up their end of the bargain; the inheritance you expected doesn’t come through because there were last minute changes. Issuing a subpoena for the records held by the other side can go a long way toward solving that mystery. As you can imagine, people and businesses in the wrong are generally reluctant to hand over incriminating evidence. Though there isn’t always that “smoking gun” you’re looking for, being able to review a business’s bank records or your employment personnel file can provide the “why” and help you win your case.
Prior to this amendment, attorneys practicing in Nebraska state courts were required to request subpoenas from the court. Further complicating things, it was unclear which court should issue the subpoena: the court in which the case was pending or a court in the jurisdiction where the subpoena was to be served. The revisions make clear that the court in which the case is pending is the one which should issue the subpoena.
Even more simple, though, is allowing attorneys to issues subpoenas for their own cases. This saves the court valuable time and manpower, as well as streamlining the process for efficiency concerns. It also cuts down on duplicative paperwork by eliminating the request, or “praecipe,” for summons which had to be filed with the court. If an attorney realizes a subpoena needs to be issued, he or she could now potentially draft and serve the document on the same day. Allowing non-party civilians to serve process on those being subpoenaed is also a boon to efficiency in both time and money.
If you think there are documents relating to your case which the other side may be trying to hide, let the experienced litigation attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm help you. Give us a call today at 712-226-4000 or visit one of our three locations in Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; or Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
 Nebraska LB 509, effective August 24, 2017. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/105/PDF/Slip/LB509.pdf
 LB 509 Statement of Intent. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/105/PDF/SI/LB509.pdf