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Monson v. R. Melkonian

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 26, 2019

TRENELL MONSON, Plaintiff,
v.
R. MELKONIAN, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM (ECF NO. 48)

         Trenell Monson (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner[1] proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is proceeding on Plaintiff's claim against defendant Melkonian for failure to protect in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is based on an incident that occurred on November 21, 2016.

         On June 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum. (ECF No. 48). Plaintiff requests the following documents from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office:

1) Video footage on 11-21-16 of the incident that occurred on Main jail fourth floor.
2) All pictures taking of inmates on 11-21-16 incident including Plaintiff, and Dean Walker thats mentioned in incident report.
3) Grievance #2016110207
4) All incident reports from 11-21-16 incident
5) Any and all grievance and complaints that been filed on defendant Ronald Melkonian during his employment at Fresno County Jail.

(Id. at 1) (spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors in original).

         On June 7, 2019, Defendant filed an objection to Plaintiff's request. (ECF No. 49).

         “A command in a subpoena to produce documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things requires the responding person to permit inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of the materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(1)(D). “If the subpoena commands the production of documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things or the inspection of premises before trial, then before it is served on the person to whom it is directed, a notice and a copy of the subpoena must be served on each party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(4).

         Under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Id.

         As to Defendant's objections, Defendant is not the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, so it is not clear how he has standing to object. Certainly, Plaintiff may choose to serve these requests on Defendant who may then assert objections on behalf of Defendant, and Plaintiff may move to compel if Defendant's answers are insufficient. But notably Defendant does not state that a third-party subpoena is unnecessary because Defendant will respond on the Fresno County Sheriff's Office's behalf. Nor does Defendant state that these documents are within his possession, custody, or control. Thus, it appears a third-party subpoena may be necessary.

         As Defendant appears to be raising objections on behalf of non-party Fresno County Sheriff's Office, but does not represent the Fresno County Sheriff's Office in this action or state that it will respond on its behalf, the Court will overrule Defendant's objections (without prejudice to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office raising these objections in response to the subpoena).[2]

         As to Plaintiff's requests, it appears that many of the documents Plaintiff is seeking fall within the scope of discovery. Therefore, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion and send him ...


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