Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

I have been subpeoned in testify in a civil law suit brought about my former landlady who is suing her insurance company for its failure to pay all expenses brought on by a rain storm over 3 years ago. I was first subpeoned to a deposition which I tried to kill. Both sides assured me that, if I just did the deposition, I wouldn't be called to trial. I did the deposition yesterday and last night was served papers by the insurance company to be a witness for them in court

I have begged them not to call me. Aside from the fact that I know nothing about what damage my former residence actually sustained, I have explained, that I am suffering from multiple myeloma and that I have an anxiety disorder that is made worse when I am put in situations like this.

Twice previously I tried to serve jury duty but, both times I become almost hysterical and felt like the walls of the courtroom were closing in on me. I have subsequently gotten doctors' notes to excuse me from having to do jury duty.

The case is supposed to go to trial on July 9. The mere thought of it is causing me great anxiety. I do not want to do this. I don't want to testify for or against either side, I just don't feel that I can do this

Is there anyway to quash the subpeona? Will a doctor's note get me out of it. Why can't they use the deposition when the attorneys for both sides asked me questions, already. What recourse do I have?

Thank you

Asked on 6/06/13, 11:35 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I'm wondering how you would feel if you had a lawsuit and the outcome of the lawsuit depended on a witness to show up at trial and testify truthfully. And then I wonder how you would feel if the witness cried and begged not to show up. Or if they skipped town and you lost the whole case simply because they refused to show up? If you truly did not know anything about the case, and had testified as much during your deposition, then I would doubt that you would be called to testify at trial.

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Answered on 6/06/13, 12:29 pm

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Mr. Roach is right. Your testimony may be important even if it doesn't seem that way to you.

You're not the first person with an anxiety disorder who has had to testify. Others have managed, and so will you. The only way you might be excused is if you could show that testifying would likely cause serious damage to your physical or mental health. Explaining that you will be extremely anxious while on the stand would not be enough. And in order to present such an argument, you would either have to hire a lawyer or go to court and make the argument yourself -- which would probably be even harder on you than testifying.

Getting excused from jury duty is different because your seat could be filled just as capably by some other random person. Here the parties need you in particular.

If you let the lawyers know about your anxiety ahead of time, they may be able to make the process less stressful for you. The court will probably do what it can to accommodate you as well. But you probably will have to testify unless you can persuade the lawyers not to call you to the stand.

Good luck.

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Answered on 6/06/13, 1:06 pm
John Laurie Gertz and Laurie

I understand your situation. You can call the attorney to see if the parties will agree to use your deposition testimony, and you can also consult with an attorney to see if they can get an order allowing you not to testify but that will cost you some money to have the attorney make that attempt.

On the other hand at least one of the parties feels that you have something that will help the court make a decision in this matter. Your testimony is more than likely vital to your case so perhaps you can explain your situation to the attorney who subpenaed you and some type of accommodation can be made, after all you did do the deposition. Keep in mind that in order for our system to work we all need to participate.

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Answered on 6/06/13, 1:13 pm

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