Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
31 Winter 2015–2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings A subpoena is one of the most important tools available to a Coast Guard investigating offcer (IO), as that simple piece of paper is actually a forceful mechanism to issue a legal command. Because they usually move forward unchal- lenged, IOs may issue subpoenas with little thought as to what would happen if a party refused to comply. However, it's important for investigating offcers to fully understand their subpoena authority — especially the process to enforce a subpoena — for those rare situations when enforcement action is necessary. Enforcement of a marine casualty subpoena requires federal judicial action, which can be a lengthy process requiring jus- tifcation from the IO as well as assistance from the servicing legal offce and the Department of Justice. Therefore, so as not to waste any time, it's essential to ensure: • every subpoena will be enforceable before issuance, • the investigating offcer has a general understanding of the enforcement process, • the IO is prepared to follow through with the enforce- ment process. Marine Casualty Subpoena Authority A subpoena is a written order commanding a person to appear before a court or other tribunal to give testimony and/or to produce certain documents or other items. Sub- poenas are usually issued by or under the authority of a court. Under 46 United States Code §6304, designated inves- tigating offcers are invested with the authority to issue sub- poenas directly — in other words, without having to petition a court to issue a subpoena on their behalf. IOs can use a subpoena to compel evidence production, a party in interest, or a witness for testimony. Every investigating offcer should be familiar with and have access to a modifable version of the subpoena template. 1 An IO's subpoena carries the same force, the same effect, and has the same limitations as a civil subpoena issued by a United States district or federal court. 2 One relatively recent change to the subpoena rules, however, involves geographic limits on service and compliance. In the past, investigating offcers could legally serve a subpoena only within certain geographical limits, generally equivalent to Marine Casualty Subpoena Authority and Enforcement What every investigating offcer should know. by LCDR DaMian yeMMa Attorney Advisor U.S. Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise Investigations National Center of Expertise A blank sample subpeona.