Can I just refuse to comply with a subpoena?

This is hypothetical - I’m not under subpoena.

There was a news item today about how Sarah Palin’s husband refused to testify in an investigation after being issued a subpoena to do so.

On what grounds can he do that? Is it the same as when Bush ordered some of his aides not to testify on grounds of executive privilege?

What other ways are there to avoid a subpoena? I always thought of them as something you had to do or they’d haul you in forcibly.

Previous thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=484017&highlight=subpoena

Quick version: Outside of New York, a subpoena is not enforceable by itself. If somebody ignores your subpoena, you have to go petition a/the judge to issue an order compelling you to comply.

The Palin subpoena is a legislative one, and comes with different rules.

It helps if you can bank on a presidential pardon. Just wait, it’s going to look like he’s signing baseballs.:rolleyes:

What does a Presidential pardon have to do with judicial process in Alaska?

Nothing. The POTUS can grant a pardon for Federal crimes, but not state ones. That’s the Governor’s call :smiley:

A legislative subpoena in Alaska can only be enforced when the legislature is in session, which won’t reconvene until January. Palin is just stonewalling until after the election, then he will have a change of heart and testify before the legislature can take any action against him.

A subpoena is a judicial order to appear at a place at a given time. Failure to do what is judicially ordered is not a smart idea. But the penalty is not self-executing; it requires that the issuer of the subpoena follow up with obtaining (or issuing) a further order penalizing the party for the failure to appear.

If the party is a deponent under subpoena issued by an attorney, then usually the “penalty” is to have the court issue its own order that you appear at a deposition.

If the subpoena was directly issued by the court at the request of one of the parties, and you fail to appear, this may well result in an order that you show up before the judge and explain why you shouldn’t be fined or jailed for failing to appear.

A legislative subpoena is a different animal, enforcement of which starts with the legislative body. If need be, they can go to the court system to get orders enforcing the subpoenas.