Colleges often receive subpoenas for documents. A subpoena is an order of the court. Do not ignore a subpoena, even if it addresses something that you are unfamiliar with, or asks for documents you don’t have. Failure to respond to a subpoena may potentially result in you or the College being held in contempt of court. It is important to handle them quickly.
If a sheriff or process server arrives at your office and asks you to accept legal papers (such as a summons or subpoena), you may accept them if they are addressed to you by name or title, such as registrar or custodian of records. Do not accept a subpoena that is not addressed to you. Direct the official to the Office of System Counsel for NOVA and call our office to alert us of the situation 703.425.5402.
If you accept or receive a subpoena, contact the Office of System Counsel for NOVA immediately. It is important for us to review the subpoena to determine the College’s rights and responsibilities for compliance. Custodians for records should follow the Subpoena Processing Guide [PDF] to assist with the processing of subpoenas. In some cases, attorneys will also subpoena the custodian of records to testify. Witness testimony is unnecessary if the records are authenticated. Please use the Authentication of Records [PDF] form to authenticate employment and education records.
Custodians of records may receive requests for student records from attorneys that include the written and signed consent of the student. In these cases, it is unnecessary to process the request as a subpoena. The records should be provided immediately. Provide a copy of the request and records to the Office of System Counsel for NOVA. It is important to let us review the request and documents to determine the College’s rights and responsibilities for compliance.
If you receive an inquiry from an investigator who is seeking background information on a student, faculty or staff member, please use this process as a guide – Guidelines for Handling Investigator Requests.
If you have any questions about processing subpoenas or responding to investigator requests, please contact Akiva Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.425.5402.