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SECTION 250: Service of Legal Papers and Compliance with Discovery Requests

Last updated: February 2017
  1. Definitions
  2. Policy

I. Definitions

“Notices of Intent” are served on the University to provide notice of a potential future lawsuit. Upon receipt of a Notice of Intent, the University may be required to put its risk managers, insurers, auditors, or others on notice of potential liability.

“Complaints” are served on the University to initiate lawsuits. Valid service of a complaint initiates the legal process, requiring the University to issue a response within a short period.

“Subpoenas” are served on the University by courts, administrative agencies, and attorneys. They are used to compel the University and its departments, units, and employees to produce records and provide testimony in lawsuits or government investigations.

“Discovery” is a phase during civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings where parties may compel other parties to respond to interrogatories (written questions), sit for depositions, provide responses to requests for production of documents and electronic records, and provide access for inspection of property.

“Search Warrants” permit law enforcement agencies to search and seize property.

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II. Policy

The Michigan State University Office of the General Counsel (“OGC”) provides advice and representation to the University and its employees in relation to all University-related legal matters. When a department, unit, or employee receives legal papers (Notice of Intent, Complaint, Subpoena, Search Warrant) or Discovery requests, it is important to notify the OGC and/or comply with the request as set forth below.

  1. Service of Notices of Intent, Complaints, and Subpoenas

    When University departments, units, and/or employees are served with Notices of Intent, Complaints, Subpoenas, or other legal papers:

    1. Note the time, date, method of service (first class mail, certified mail, hand delivery, etc.), and person on whom the papers were served;
    2. Immediately contact Michigan State University OGC attorney Elizabeth Watza or Brian Quinn at 517-353-3530.
  2. Service of Search Warrants

    If served with a search warrant, and you or your immediately available supervisor are satisfied that the officer is an authorized representative of the identified law enforcement agency, cooperate in providing the documents and/or things sought. As soon as possible, you or your supervisor should inform an attorney in the OGC regarding the matter at 517-353-3530.

  3. Complying with Discovery Requests

    Promptly and completely respond to all requests by the OGC for assistance in responding to discovery.

    • If the discovery requests documents:

      Please include all electronic files, emails, paper files, recordings, notes, etc. Provide all documents that are responsive to the request, including everything that you and/or your department/unit can access. If you or your department/unit do not have access to documents that you believe are responsive to the request, notify the OGC that the documents exist and tell the OGC where you believe the documents are. Be sure to include all documents, even those marked private or confidential. The OGC will determine which documents to withhold. If you have any questions regarding whether you should include a document, please contact the OGC for assistance.

    • If the discovery requests responses to interrogatory questions:

      Please identify the persons in your department or unit who are able to answer each question and have them provide a complete response to the question. If you are unable to identify someone who is capable of responding to the question, or you believe someone outside of your department or unit is better able to answer the question, please notify the OGC.

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