This page describes the procedure for obtaining subpoenas in matters pending before the United States Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) or in a longshore or black lung case pending before the District Director, Office of Workers' Compensation programs (OWCP).
Implementation of New Forms
On November 23, 2010, OALJ posted new subpoena forms. Previously, a single form was used regardless of the nature of the subpoena. The new forms are specific to the intended use of the subpoena and are similar to those used in Federal District Courts: (1) Subpoena to Appear and Testify at a Hearing, (2) Subpoena to Appear and Testify at a Deposition, and (3) Subpoena to Produce Documents, Information or Objects, or to Permit Inspection of Premises.
Beginning on Wednesday, December 1, 2010, use of the new forms will be mandatory. The following transition schedule will apply:
1. Subpoenas issued for particular cases before Wednesday, December 1, 2010, remain in effect.
2. All subpoenas issued on and after Wednesday, December 1, 2010, must be on the new form appropriate to the purpose of the subpoena.
3. The revised (11/2010) subpoena forms may be used prior to Wednesday, December 1, 2010.
For additional information about the new forms, see Administrative Notice of Acting Chief ALJ (Nov. 23, 2010).
To obtain a subpoena you may either:
(1) Download the subpoena form off this web site; complete the applicable information; print the subpoena, and send it to the appropriate judge with a request for issuance of the subpoena. If approved by the presiding judge, the subpoena will be returned with the case number inscribed, the judge's signature and an embossed USDOL seal.
- Subpoena to Appear and Testify at a Hearing (11/2010)
- Subpoena to Appear and Testify at a Deposition (11/2010)
- Subpoena to Produce Documents, Information or Objects, or to Permit Inspection of Premises (11/2010)
Note: You can fill out the form on-line and save a copy on a local drive on your computer. If you do so, it is recommended that you do a "Save-As" and give the document a new name.
The information you type on these forms is not transmitted over the Internet. You must print the completed form, and mail it to the trial judge.
(2) Contact the presiding judge's office in writing to request blank subpoenas. The request must specify which type(s) of subpoena is being sought. At the presiding judge's discretion, you will be provided with up to a combined total of 10 blank subpoenas with embossed seals and signatures. The case number will be inscribed on the subpoena and you must limit your use of the subpoena to that case. Some judges may impose additional requirements for issuance of subpoenas, but in all cases requests for more than 10 blank subpoenas must include a written justification.
Who to contact:
Mailing addresses and phone numbers are found on the Index of Offices page. All requests for subpoenas must be made in writing.
Assigned case: Once a case is assigned to a presiding judge, all subpoena requests must be made to that judge's office. The National Office will NOT issue subpoenas once a case is assigned.
Unassigned case: In Longshore cases that have not yet been assigned to a presiding judge, direct requests for subpoenas to the applicable District Office, or, if you are not sure of which District Office has the case, to the National Office in Washington, D.C.
For all other unassigned cases, applications for subpoenas should be directed to the National Office in Washington, D.C.
Cases Pending Before the District Director: For Longshore workers' compensation cases, the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) has the exclusive authority to issue subpoenas, whether the case is before the OWCP or the OALJ. See Maine v. Brady-Hamilton Stevedore Co., 18 BRBS 129 (1986) (en banc); Butler v. Ingalls Shipbuilding, Inc., 28 BRBS 114 (1994). All requests for subpoenas in cases still pending before OWCP should be directed to the OALJ National Office in Washington, D.C. or to the appropriate OALJ District Office. For FECA claims you must request subpoenas from OWCP. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 10.619, 10.620.
Required elements for validity
To be valid, a subpoena must (1) show the case number, (2) bear the embossed seal of the Department of Labor, and (3) bear the signature of the administrative law judge having the authority to issue the subpoena. The case number must be a valid OWCP or ALJ case number and not an insurance claim number or internal case file number.
The subpoena should be served with both Page 1 and Page 2. If practical, the subpoena should be printed as a two-sided copy on a single sheet of paper.
Department of Veterans Affairs Records
The Department of Veterans Affairs requires a VA Form 10-5345 “Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information” to accompany all subpoenas for VA records.
Social Security Numbers
DO NOT put a Social Security number on the subpoena. If a Social Security number is on the subpoena, OALJ will either redact or reject the subpoena. Partial Social Security Numbers or using an attachment or appendix to incorporate a Social Security Number are not acceptable alternatives. See
- Administrative Notice of Chief ALJ (Dec. 17, 2007): PDF
(OALJ will not approve subpoenas bearing a partial Social Security Number or incorporating an attachment or appendix bearing such a number).
- Administrative Notice of Chief ALJ (Aug. 26, 2005): PDF | HTM
(OALJ will not approve subpoenas bearing a Social Security Number).
Duties of Person Issuing Subpoena:
(1) the subpoena must be issued for a lawful purpose within the statutory authority of the issuing agency;
(2) the documents requested must be relevant to that purpose; and
(3) the subpoena demand must be reasonable and not unduly burdensome.
Misuse of subpoenas may result in sanctions, including dismissal of the case, under 29 C.F.R. §§ 18.6(d)(2), 18.29, 18.34(g)(3), 18.36. See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(1).
Moreover, when you request subpoenas from this office you are representing that the subpoenas will be used in an administrative proceeding before OALJ or OWCP. Federal criminal statutes provide penalties of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years for knowing and willful submission of false statements to the Federal Government. 18 U.S.C. 1001; see also 18 U.S.C. 1546. Thus, do NOT attempt to serve subpoenas obtained from OALJ for uses other than in a case pending before OALJ or OWCP in which you are an attorney or authorized representative of a party, or are proceeding pro se.
Notice regarding expenses: A witness, other than a witness for the Federal Government, may not be required to attend a deposition or hearing unless the mileage and witness fees are paid in advance. See 29 C.F.R. § 18.24(a).
Prior Notice of Use of Subpoena in Discovery: Notice must be given pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 18.22(c) when using a subpoena to direct appearance at a deposition. In addition, a party desiring to take the deposition of any person upon oral examination shall give reasonable notice in writing to every other party to the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(1), as made applicable by 29 C.F.R. § 18.1(a).
Similarly, use of a subpoena on a third party to command production of documents and things or inspection of premises before the hearing requires prior notice to all parties prior to service of the subpoena on the nonparty. Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(b)(1), as made applicable by 29 C.F.R. § 18.1(a). See Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 386 (7th Cir. 2008); Butler v. Biocore Medical Technologies, Inc., 348 F.3d 1163, 1173 (10th Cir. 2003); Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 476 F.Supp. 2d 913, 928-29 (N.D.Ill. 2007).
Duties of Person Responding to Subpoena:
Any subpoenaed organization not a party to this adversary proceeding shall designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf, and may set forth, for each person designated, the matters on which the person will testify, Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6) made applicable by 29 C.F.R. § 18.1(a).
A person responding to a subpoena to produce documents should produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business, or shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the demand. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(1).
Any motion to quash or limit the subpoena shall be filed in compliance with 29 C.F.R. § 18.24(c) (the full text of Part 18.24 is set out below).
Notice to entities covered by the regulations implementing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, in regard to the privacy of individually identifiable health information. If a subpoena purportedly issued under the authority of the Office of Administrative Law Judges does not bear a raised, embossed seal, it is not valid under 45 CFR §§164.512(e), 164.512(f) or 164.512(l). These regulations went into effect on April 14, 2001 for many covered entities. More ...
The general rule governing subpoenas is found at 29 C.F.R. § 18.24. You should also check any procedural rules specifically applicable to the subject matter of the case before OALJ or OWCP:
§ 18.24 Subpoenas.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the Chief Administrative Law Judge or the presiding administrative law judge, as appropriate, may issue subpoenas as authorized by statute or law upon written application of a party requiring attendance of witnesses and production of relevant papers, books, documents, or tangible things in their possession and under their control. A subpoena may be served by certified mail or by any person who is not less than 18 years of age. A witness, other than a witness for the Federal Government, may not be required to attend a deposition or hearing unless the mileage and witness fee applicable to witnesses in courts of the United States for each date of attendance is paid in advance of the date of the proceeding.
(b) If a party's written application for subpoena is submitted three (3) working days or less before the hearing to which it relates, a subpoena shall issue at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Law Judge or presiding administrative law judge, as appropriate.
(c) Motion to quash or limit subpoena. Within ten (10) days of receipt of a subpoena but no later than the date of the hearing, the person against whom it is directed may file a motion to quash or limit the subpoena, setting forth the reasons why the subpoena should be withdrawn or why it should by limited in scope. Any such motion shall be answered within ten (10) days of service, and shall be ruled on immediately thereafter. The order shall specify the date, if any, for compliance with the specifications of the subpoena.
(d) Failure to comply. Upon the failure of any person to comply with an order to testify or a subpoena, the party adversely affected by such failure to comply may, where authorized by statute or by law, apply to the appropriate district court for enforcement of the order or subpoena.
Following are excerpts from the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 555 and 556 relevant to ALJ subpoenas:
§ 555. Ancillary matters
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(d) Agency subpenas authorized by law shall be issued to a party on request and, when required by rules of procedure, on a statement or showing of general relevance and reasonable scope of the evidence sought. On contest, the court shall sustain the subpena or similar process or demand to the extent that it is found to be in accordance with law. In a proceeding for enforcement, the court shall issue an order requiring the appearance of the witness or the production of the evidence or data within a reasonable time under penalty of punishment for contempt in case of contumacious failure to comply. * * *
(Pub. L. 89-554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 385.)
§ 556. Hearings; presiding employees; powers and duties; burden of proof; evidence; record as basis of decision
(a) This section applies, according to the provisions thereof, to hearings required by section 553 or 554 of this title to be conducted in accordance with this section.
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(c) Subject to published rules of the agency and within its powers, employees presiding at hearings may
* * *
(2) issue subpenas authorized by law;
* * *
(Pub. L. 89-554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 386; Pub. L. 94-409, 4(c), Sept. 13, 1976, 90 Stat. 1247; Pub. L. 95-251, 2(a)(1), Mar. 27, 1978, 92 Stat. 183; Pub. L. 101-552, 4(a), Nov. 15, 1990, 104 Stat. 2737.)
- Attorney General's Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act, Section 6 (c)--Subpenas (1947).
- JUDGES' BENCHBOOK: Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 27.1.3 (2000 Rev.)
- Judges' CETA, JTPA and WIA Deskbook, V.D. (2001)
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (2007)
- Childers v. Carolina Power & Light Co., ARB No. 98-077, ALJ No. 1997-ERA-32 (ARB Dec. 29, 2000) (statutory mandates to provide formal trial-type hearings implicitly encompasses subpoena authority)
- Bobreski v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 02-0732(RMU) (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2003) (ALJs do not have the authority to issue subpoenas in CAA, SDWA, SWDA, CERCLA, WPCA, and TSCA whistleblower cases; EPA's proper invocation of its Touhy regulations)
- Chief ALJ's delegation of authority to issue subpoenas to Deputy Chief ALJ, Associate Chief ALJs, and District Chief ALJs