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Sample Policy on Responding to Subpoenas

All services provided by this Program are confidential. The Program recognizes the very personal and private nature of the information that may be shared by those dealing with the trauma of sexual assault. The Program is committed to honoring the choices of survivors and to provide services in a manner that facilitates client empowerment. The Program will take all necessary steps under this policy and Washington and federal law to preserve the privacy rights of those who receive its services, unless expressly authorized by the client to do otherwise.

The Program will respond to subpoenas in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the survivor.

Anyone attempting to serve a subpoena should be directed to________ [Option: the business office]. The Executive Director has been designated as the “custodian of records” for the purpose of responding to subpoenas. Subpoenas requiring a witness to bring documents under their control should be served on the custodian of records at the business office. The Executive Director must be notified immediately of all subpoenas, threats of subpoenas or attempts to serve subpoenas.

The Program will attempt to notify a survivor as soon as it receives a subpoena concerning the survivor. When the program cannot contact the survivor, and without informed consent from the survivor, confidentiality will be maintained.

No one at the Program will release any information regarding the survivor without informed consent from the survivor. No information about any survivor will be released in response to a subpoena unless:

  • The survivor releases the information by written waiver with informed consent, or
  • The Court, after hearing reasons why the information should not be released, orders that the information be released.

A subpoena, even one signed by a judge, does not require the automatic release of files or other information. Without informed consent of the survivor, the Program will resist disclosure and make every effort to object to the subpoena, including filing all necessary court motions or objections.

In the event the Program receives a subpoena to disclose information regarding the Program, its services or its staff, the Program may need to seek protection. Even when the survivor gives informed consent to release their records or authorizes the Program to testify, the Program reserves the right to seek and follow legal advice about whether there should be limitations to the disclosure for the protection of the Program and/or its staff.

Reviewed: November 19th, 2015