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CRM 1-499

408. Definitions of Judicial Subpoena, Administrative Summons and Formal Written Request.

An administrative summons or subpoena is a judicially enforceable demand for records issued by a government authority which is authorized by some other provision of law to issue such process; administrative process is governed by the Act. 12 U.S.C. § 3405.

Judicial subpoenas are any court order to produce records, other than a grand jury subpoena, and are governed by the Act. 12 U.S.C. § 3407. Although the Act is clear on the point that grand jury subpoenas are excepted, 12 U.S.C. § 3413(i), one financial institution has argued that grand jury subpoenas are a form of "judicial subpoena" and therefore subject to the customer notice and challenge requirements of 12 U.S.C. § 3407. The court considering this argument, however, held that grand jury subpoenas are not "judicial subpoenas" within the meaning of the Act. In re Subpoena to Testify Before the Grand Jury Issued to the Commonwealth Nation Bank, Civil Action No. 79-349, Misc. 7924, slip op. (M.D. Pa., April 6, 1979).

A formal written request is designed to allow government authorities to request records in a formal manner. Section 3408 of the Act governs formal written requests by agency officials. Unlike administrative process, a formal written request is not a coercive form of process, therefore a financial institution may refuse to honor the request. 12 U.S.C. § 3408(2). See form DOJ463 for a suggested form of formal request.