by: Robert Wagner, intellectual property attorney at Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C. (Robert Wagner on G+) and Jeffrey Ludwikowski, shareholder at Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C.
Previously, when out-of-state litigants attempt to serve subpoenas in Pennsylvania for discovery in out-of-state actions, they had to open a miscellaneous matter in Pennsylvania, which could be an involved and difficult process—NO MORE. Pennsylvania has adopted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, which became effective on December 24, 2012. This will make out-of-state discovery in Pennsylvania easier and more efficient, by eliminating the potpourri of individualized county by county out-of-state discovery procedures across Pennsylvania.
On October 24, 2012, Governor Corbett signed Act 183 of 2012, which amends the Pennsylvania Judicial Code by adopting the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (the “UIDDA”). The UIDDA is a model uniform law that allows for out-of-state litigants to obtain third-party discovery in Pennsylvania. Because foreign subpoenas lose jurisdiction at the border of their issuing state, the subpoena must be “reissued” in Pennsylvania to be effective within the Commonwealth
The procedure under UIDDA is simple: foreign litigants present their foreign subpoena to the “in the jurisdiction in which the person who is the subject of the [subpoena] resides, is employed[,] or regularly transacts business in person.” After paying a fee (and complying with local rules) the prothonotary will issue the subpoena for service within its jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania subpoena must incorporate the terms of the foreign one and must contain contact information for all counsel of record and any pro se party. Requesting that a subpoena be issued in Pennsylvania under the UIDDA does not constitute a court appearance, so out-of-state attorneys need not worry about seeking admission pro hac vice.
The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure govern service and any motion practice related to the Pennsylvania subpoena or its enforcement (including protective orders). This procedure applies both to subpoenas for depositions and subpoenas for documents and things.
Here is the link to the Act as adopted in Pennsylvania.
While the UIDDA will ultimately make out-of-state discovery in Pennsylvania easier, it may take a while before the new process becomes streamlined and efficient. In fact, there have already been reports of difficulties in its implementation as attorneys and the various Prothonotaries across the state become familiar with this new process. However, we expect these issues to resolve themselves soon.