How do I subpoena something without a case?

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How do I subpoena something without a case?

I filed a freedom of information act sheet to get a copy of an alleged threatening letter I was accused of writing. The police did a investigation on me and asked if I wrote the alleged letter, I said no. They never gave me a copy of this letter. I was told I can’t get a copy of it with my FOIA  because they want to protect the witness name that is written on the alleged threatening letter.I told them to cross out the witness name with a permanent ink marker. They told me they couldn’t do it. On other paperwork I got in the past they did cross out witnesses names now they won’t. What should I do?

Asked on November 8, 2010 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

State laws vary on who can and who can not issue subpoenas and whether or not they must be so ordered by a judge in certain circumstances.  But generally most states require that a lawsuit be in place for which the information sought is related in some way to the basis of the suit.  What the police did before is "redact" the name of the witness.  Try your FOIA request again and ask that all names be redacted from the correspondence so that the name of the party who wrote the alleged letter is not visible to you.  If they deny you again you may need to seek legal help.  Good luck. 


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