Third-Party Objections to Subpoenas in California: All You Need to Know

Third-Party Objections to Subpoenas in California: All You Need to Know

Subpoenas play a crucial role in every aspect of the judicial system. 

Some folks are surprised to learn that these legal documents are what make in-depth discovery possible. Even more surprising to some is the fact that it’s possible to serve subpoenas to parties who aren’t involved in a case at all. 

Rules regarding this procedure vary by state, but for targeted individuals or entities, it’s possible to file a third-party objection to subpoenas in California

This is just one of the few ways that subpoena laws in California differ from other areas of the country — but it can be a truly impactful difference. Subpoenas allow parties to a case to gather necessary evidence. If a third party can successfully object to this court order, it may leave a litigant unable to collect important information. 

However, there are a few instances where such an objection is appropriate.

Understanding Third-Party Objections to Subpoenas in California

The importance of subpoenas in any type of judicial proceeding is fairly simple to grasp. Without these legal documents, there would be no real way to compel the production of evidence from other sides. With third-party subpoenas, it’s possible to gather documents and information from individuals and entities who aren’t directly involved in a case. These entities can range from event eyewitnesses to tech companies with stored data. 

But just because your organization has received a subpoena, it does not mean you have to comply. There are various grounds for third-party objections to subpoenas in California but you must meet a few requirements to quash the subpoena.

Perhaps the most important requirement is objecting in a timely manner. A motion to quash must be submitted within the timeframe specified in the subpoena notice. This is usually 20 days. 

It’s also necessary for the motion to be served to every party involved in the case. Of course, there’s always the chance that you won’t be able to successfully file a third-party objection to a subpoena in California. If there are no grounds, utilizing eDiscovery tools can greatly assist you.

For instance, the centralized document management offered on eDiscovery platforms helps with the collection and processing of large volumes of data. If you worked in law prior to the tech revolution, you know this could’ve gone a long way in helping you not lose your hair. eDiscovery platforms like Logikcull also have efficient search capabilities, customizable workflows, and they greatly simplify the identification and redaction of privileged and personal information. 

Grounds for Third-Party Objections to Subpoenas in California

Everyone is up in arms over data privacy these days. If you can keep clients, consumers, and others happy with your information protection policies, that’s a win-win for everyone. Well, except for the party that issued the subpoena in the first place. Let’s not worry about them, though.

Now, you’re in luck if you’ve ever asked “Can a party object to a third-party subpoena in California?” Because yes — yes they can. Even better, there are a variety of different grounds that can result in such a request being approved. These include: 

  • Protection of privacy rights: Any information that’s considered privileged or protected by privacy laws typically cannot be compelled for production. This includes attorney-client conversations, medical information, spousal communication, and more. 
  • Trade secrets and confidential information: It may be possible to quash a California third-party subpoena if you can show that it unduly seeks proprietary or confidential information. Trade secrets have a high level of protection under the law. However, it may not always be possible to successfully object. In such a case, it’s possible to require the recipient to sign a nondisclosure agreement. 
  • Unreasonable burden or expense: California law does not allow subpoenas to subject their targets to an undue burden or expense. This is obviously a subjective matter, and the outcome can vary based on the unique circumstances of the subpoena recipient. 
  • Overly broad or vague requests: It’s typically not okay for a subpoena to be issued in an overly vague manner when there’s no clear indication of what’s being sought. Doing so would be a detriment to the law in a variety of ways, and as there’s no fish and chips to enjoy afterwards, you should never agree to a fishing expedition. 
  • Preexisting protective order: Did you roll your eyes upon receiving a subpoena due to a preexisting protective order? If so, you know exactly what we’re getting at here. Any evidence that’s been ordered protected or sealed by a prior court order cannot be accessed by a subpoena. You can also seek a protective order after receiving the legal document. 
  • Lack of jurisdiction: If a company or individual doesn’t do business or live in California, respectively, then they’re in luck! A California subpoena might have substantial power, but crossing state lines is not one of those powers. Yeah… we’re sometimes jealous of Nevada folks too.

These are not the only grounds that support a third-party objection to a subpoena in California but they’re the most common ones. 


When individuals or entities ask whether it’s possible to object to a third-party subpoena in California, their goal typically isn’t to derail litigation or hinder prosecution. The simple fact is that it’s important to protect third-party rights. After all, no one wants overly litigious folks running around the state randomly gaining access to information that’s irrelevant to their case or protected under the law. 

Once we start allowing such actions to go unanswered, they’ll simply become the norm. For instance, imagine that Facebook started complying with every subpoena they received. Within weeks, crazy exes and nosy in-laws might start delving into people’s private information without any justification whatsoever. Let’s be real, none of us want that. 

Put simply, if it's possible for you to protect your or someone else’s rights from a third-party subpoena, that’s exactly what you should do. Of course, you can’t win them all — so there will be times when you’re required to produce evidence. In such situations, you’ll benefit significantly from using the tools offered by Logikcull to comply with third-party subpoenas in California. 

If the courts won’t allow you to safeguard information, it’s at least possible to simplify its release. 


If you’re interested in learning how Logikcull can assist with subpoena responses, feel free to book a personalized demo with one of our product specialists. 

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