Cell phone subpoena – Specific Requests

A cell phone subpoena has multiple components. In the first post related to this topic, I provided the cover letter to the wireless provider and the “Notice of Subpoena Duces Tecum…”

Searching google for cell phone subpoena, the majority of the results on the first page contain information on where to send your subpoena. But that’s not what most people want or need when they search for those terms I think.

Attachment II is where you lay out what you’re asking the third-party for in the cell phone subpoena.

The “Introduction” is just boilerplate stuff about obligations for responding to the cell phone subpoena.

The part labeled “Production Requests” has the actual requests for the calls you’re seeking. You’ll notice that each paragraph is almost identical except for the first few words. The first paragraph begins “Records, time and duration,” the second with “Call logs containing records, time and duration,” the third paragraph begins with “Call history…”

The reason I do this is because the different cell phone providers use different terminology to refer to their call records. AT&T might label them call logs while Sprint might designate them call history. You want to make sure you include the variations so that someone in the subpoena compliance department doesn’t look at your request and say, “we don’t have call logs” when they do have something referred to as “call history.”

You don’t need the subscriber’s Social Security Number as I had in my version to prepare and serve a cell phone subpoena. The point of including their SSN, date of birth, etc., is just to make it as easy as possible for the company to locate the records of the correct individual if there is more than one person with the same name.

Anyway getting to Exhibit “A,” here’s what I do. Open an Excel file or Google Docs, it doesn’t matter. The top row will have dates or a range of dates you want the cell phone company to check their records for. Let’s assume the telephone number of the person whose records we’re seeking is (516) 555-8833. Then we think of the relevant dates that the calls to and from that number might have been made on. Also, I’ve included a list of numbers that I suspect, though can’t prove, would appear in the adversary’s phone records.  In this particular case, I was hoping the numbers would not appear in their records which would show the lack of contact between the adversary and a third party.

Let’s say you think your wife or husband is cheating on you with someone, and you are aware that person has multiple phone numbers – landline, cell, work, etc. Of course this would be in the context of a lawsuit, which is when you have the authority to serve a subpoena for a party’s cell phone records. So you list those phone numbers in the columns under the dates. That’s what you want the cell phone provider to look for and provide to you.

Of course, you can just request “ALL” call logs for a very long period of time but it’s much harder to defend such an overbroad request without good reason. A “fishing expedition” is what the other lawyer will call it. That’s why I make my requests somewhat narrow, so even though I know the opposing lawyer will still say it’s “fishing,” the judge will hopefully see the requests are carefully considered and tailored and not a huge net to sweep in every single person your adversary may have called.

If you have to argue the subpoena before a judge, you’ll want to say what you’re looking for and why. You don’t want to embarrass the other person, you’re not trying to harass them or intrude unnecessarily in their personal life, etc.

By being prudent with your records request, you can increase the chances the judge will allow your subpoena and won’t quash it based on the opposing lawyer’s objections.

Once you enter your numbers into the Excel sheet, you’ll have to print or save the document as a pdf to attach it with the other documents. This is tricky because of the sizing on an Excel document but you just have to play with the settings.

I’m attaching a sample call log in Excel and pdf.

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