The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has rejected the assertion by the federal government that it is not subject to Rule 45 because it is not a “person.”
In Yousuf v. Samantar, No. 05-5197, 2006 WL 1651050 (D.C. Cir. June 16, 2006), plaintiffs served a third-party subpoena on the State Department seeking certain documents relevant to their tort claims against another individual. The government objected that Rule 45(a)(1)(C) authorizes service of a subpoena only upon a “person” and that it was not within the scope of that word as used in the rules.
After an exhaustive analysis of the government’s statutory construction arguments, the court held that litigants indeed may serve third-party subpoenas upon the government because the framers of the rules intended the term “person” to include non-natural persons including the U.S. government.