Subpoenaing the Postal Service

An old post described how deposing VA physicians was not easy. Now a post about subpoenaing another federal agency, the Postal Service.

Subpoenas to the Postal Service are governed by federal regulations.  There are multiple sets that can be confusing.  39 CFR 3005.11 and its related subparts are for when the Postal Service is administratively subpoenaing information.



For general purposes where you are seeking information from the Postal Service, 39 CFR 265 is more likely to apply.  Part A governs the Postal Service’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests.  This section could be helpful if you 1) do not have subpoena power; and 2) have a lot of time to wait.  If you do have subpoena power, whether through a judicial or administrative proceeding, Part B seems to apply.  Part B’s title is somewhat of a giveaway: Production or Disclosure in Federal and State Proceedings.”

39 CFR 265.12 then takes over. 39 CFR 265.12(c)(1) encourages FOIA requests, but 39 CFR 265.12(c)(2) then describes requirements for subpoenas.  It must be in writing and “[i]dentify the requested record and/or state the nature of the requested testimony, describe the relevance of the record or testimony to the proceeding, and why the information sought is unavailable by any other means.”  If the information is available by some other means, I suspect the Postal Service is not going to answer you.

Postal Service depositions are just as difficult to obtain as VA depositions, which 39 CFR 265.12(c)(2)(iii) makes quite clear. “If testimony is requested, contain a summary of the requested testimony and a showing that no document could be provided and used in lieu of testimony.” If there is a document, you probably are not getting the deposition.

How is the subpoena served? 39 CFR 265.12(c)(3)(i) creates the first service option.

Service of a demand for testimony or records (including, but not limited to, personnel or payroll information) relating to a current or former employee must be made in accordance with the applicable rules of civil procedure on the employee whose testimony is requested or the records custodian. The requester also shall deliver a copy of the demand to the District Manager, Customer Services and Sales, for all current employees whose work location is within the geographic boundaries of the manager’s district, and any former employee whose last position was within the geographic boundaries of the manager’s district. A demand for testimony or records must be received by the employee whose testimony is requested and the appropriate District Manager, Customer Services and Sales, at least ten (10) working days before the date the testimony or records are needed.

39 CFR 265.12(c)(3)(ii) applies if you want documents outside the list above or a deposition. Good luck.

Service of a demand for testimony or records (including, but not limited to, personnel or payroll information) relating to a current or former employee must be made in accordance with the applicable rules of civil procedure on the employee whose testimony is requested or the records custodian. The requester also shall deliver a copy of the demand to the District Manager, Customer Services and Sales, for all current employees whose work location is within the geographic boundaries of the manager’s district, and any former employee whose last position was within the geographic boundaries of the manager’s district. A demand for testimony or records must be received by the employee whose testimony is requested and the appropriate District Manager, Customer Services and Sales, at least ten (10) working days before the date the testimony or records are needed.

If you follow these regulations will you get the information you want? Maybe, but the federal government is making it as clear as possible that you should really leave it alone.