Last updated June 17, 2015
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NASW Law Note

Social Workers and Subpoenas


What Is a Subpoena?

  • Types of Subpoenas
  • Subpoena ad testificandum
  • Subpoena duces tecum
  • How Are Subpoenas Issued?
  • How Is a Subpoena Served?
  • Scope of a Subpoena

Responding to a Subpoena

  • Social Worker Responsibilities
  • Objecting to a Subpoena
  • Written Objections
  • Protective Order
  • Motion to Quash or Modify

Applying and Waiving Client Privilege

Social Workers, HIPAA, and Subpoenas

  • NASW Code of Ethics Standard for Release of Client Information
  • HIPAA Standards for Disclosure of Client Information in Legal Proceedings
  • Disclosure Based on a Court Order
  • HIPAA Rules for Disclosure Based on a Subpoena
  • Disclosure of Records and State Law
  • Disclosure of Records and Federal Law
  • Disclosure of Records and Mixed State–Federal Law Cases
  • HIPAA and Waiver of Privilege
  • Ex Parte Interviews

Costs of Compliance

  • Unretained Expert’s Opinion
  • Contempt of Court
  • Fees



Appendix A—NASW Code of Ethics: 1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality

Appendix B—State Subpoena Statutes

Appendix C—Federal Rules of Civil Procedure