nothing so dramatic

Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Thu Apr 28 19:29:28 CEST 2011

On 4/28/11 12:03 PM, M.R. wrote:
> However, it is not in the criminal but in the civil litigation that
> the courts can (and nowadays increasingly do) issue Subpoena Duces
> Tecum ("production of evidence") for plain-text of one of the
> litigant's communications.

This is at odds with my understanding of the Rules of Civil Procedure
and the Constitution.  Could I please get a cite to a case which
establishes this as being correct?

To my understanding of United States law, a subpoena can always be
refused on Fifth Amendment grounds.  If you have a reasonable fear that
divulging a document in a civil suit will expose you to criminal
charges, you *always* have the right to refuse on the grounds of
self-incrimination, and that refusal may not be used against you in any way.

IANAL: my only credential here is growing up around a federal judge who
heard an awful lot of subpoenas and challenges to them.

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