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United States v. Chahal

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


February 4, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SARTAJ CHAHAL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On February 3, 2010, plaintiff the United States of America (the "government") filed a motion to quash a subpoena served on United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Special Agent Edwin Gould ("Gould") by defendant Sartaj Chahal ("defendant").*fn1 Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(c)(2) (permitting the court upon a "motion made promptly" to "quash or modify [a] subpoena if compliance would be reasonable or oppressive"). The subpoena directs Gould to appear and testify at the hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment, set for February 8, 2010, and orders Gould to produce at the hearing "any and all documents and records related to Sartaj Chahal." (Ex. A to Gov't MTQ.) The court has reviewed the government's motion and supporting exhibits thereto, and HEREBY summarily GRANTS the government's motion.

The subpoena is procedurally invalid as it does not comply with the express requirements of Rule 17(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Specifically, Rule 17(a) requires that the "clerk" of the court "issue a blank subpoena--signed and sealed--to the party requesting it," who must then "fill in the blanks before the subpoena is served." The Rule is clear that the content of the subpoena must include "the seal of the court." Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(a). Here, defendant's subpoena does not include the seal of the court, and it was not signed by the Clerk of the Court.*fn2 Because the subpoena does not comply with the strictures of Rule 17, the government's motion is properly GRANTED solely on this procedural ground.

However, the court also notes that the government's motion is also properly granted on the basis that compliance with the subpoena is "unreasonable." Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(c)(2). Defendant's underlying motion to dismiss the indictment presents, in the first instance, a legal challenge to the indictment. The motion may well be resolved as matter of law. Moreover, even if the court must review the grand jury transcript in order to resolve the motion, presently there is no evidentiary hearing set. The matter is set on February 8 for oral argument on defendant's motion. Therefore, compliance with any subpoena to appear for Monday's hearing or to produce documents is unreasonable since such testimony and production of documents is unnecessary to the hearing.

Accordingly, for all of these reasons, the government's motion to quash the subpoena issued to Gould is GRANTED. Gould is not obligated to appear or produce documents at the hearing set for February 8.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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