Motion to Quash in California Superior Court–At A Glance

Use this “At A Glance Guide” to learn the statewide rules of civil procedure applicable to bringing a motion to quash in California Superior Court. For more detailed information, including local rules, please see the California Superior Court SmartRules Guides:  Motion to Quash, Opposition to Motion to Quash, Reply in Support of Motion to Quash.

Deadline:

Notice of a motion to quash or modify a subpoena duces tecum must be served on the witness and the deposition officer at least five (5) days before the date set for production of the subpoenaed records. CCP § 1985.3(g); CCP § 1985.6(f).

Motion to Quash Rules:

A motion to quash production of documents at a deposition must be accompanied by a separate statement setting forth the particular documents or demands at issue, the responses received, and the reasons why production should be compelled. CRC 335(a)(5). CRC 3.1020(a)(5) (renumbered eff 1/1/07).

Filing a motion to quash automatically excuses the custodian and deposition officer from producing the subpoenaed records until the court orders their production or the parties stipulate thereto. CCP § 1985.3(g); CCP § 1985.6(f).

The court must impose a monetary sanction against the losing party on the motion to quash unless it expressly finds that that party acted with substantial justification. CCP § 2025.410(d).

Who May Bring A Motion To Quash
1. Any consumer whose personal records are sought by a subpoena duces tecum and who is a party to the action (CCP § 1985.3(g)) may bring a motion to quash. It is not clear, pursuant to the relevant statutes, whether this right is limited to party consumers. A California Court of Appeals decision provides that a consumer may move to quash or modify a subpoena and does not limit that right to party consumers. Lantz v. Superior Court, 28 Cal. App. 4th 1831, 1849 (1994). Note that non-party consumers may object to a subpoena by serving written objections. CCP § 1985.3(g). See Los Angeles SmartRulesTM procedural guide: RESPONSE TO SUBPOENA.

2. Any employee whose employment records are sought by a subpoena duces tecum (CCP § 1985.6(f)) may bring a motion to quash. Note that non-party employees may object to a subpoena by serving written objections. CCP § 1985.6(f). See Los Angeles SmartRulesTM procedural guide: RESPONSE TO SUBPOENA.

3. Any non-party who has been served with a business records subpoena may bring a motion to quash. CCP § 1987.1. Note, however, that some case law holds that a non-party may simply serve written objections and is not required to bring a motion to quash. “The discovery rules do not discriminate against nonparty deponents. They need not scramble to retain a lawyer to file a motion to quash in order to challenge ‘records only’ discovery requests that seek privileged information. It is sufficient to simply object.” Monarch Healthcare v. Superior Court, 78 Cal. App. 4th 1282 (2000).

Who Must Be Served
Notice of a motion to quash a subpoena duces tecum that seeks consumer records or employment records must be served on the witness and the deposition officer at least five (5) days prior to the date set for production. Failure to serve the deposition officer shall not invalidate the motion but may be raised by the deposition officer as an affirmative defense in any action for liability for improper release of records. CCP § 1985.3(g); CCP § 1985.6(f).

No witness or deposition officer is required to produce testimony or records after notice of a motion to quash a subpoena until the court orders or the parties agree to a specific production. CCP § 1985.3(g); CCP § 1985.6(f).

The authorities cited in this At A Glance Guide are current as of the publication date. For authorities updated in real time, please see the SmartRules Guide for the litigation document you are drafting.

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