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National Crime Victim Law Institute

United States v. Vanskike, 18-40055-HLT, 2019 WL 2137284 (D. Kan. May 16, 2019)

September 19, 2019

Defendant was charged with operating a massage parlor as a front for illegal prostitution activity and laundering the proceedings from that activity at a casino.  Defendant filed an ex parte motion under seal requesting that the court issue a document subpoena to the YWCA, a non-party in the case, and the court granted the motion.  The YWCA moved to quash the subpoena arguing that defendant’s record request was not sufficiently specific and that the records she sought were not relevant or admissible.  The court disagreed, and refused to quash the subpoena on these grounds.  The court found that defendant’s request met the requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17(c), which governs third-party subpoenas.  Specifically, the court found that defendant’s motion was appropriately specific and sufficiently established the potential relevance and admissibility of the material.  The YWCA also resisted producing the documents because of the confidential nature of the services it provides to victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking.  When analyzing this argument, the court noted that the YWCA had not asserted any legally cognizable privilege or other legal basis to resist producing the documents.  As such, the court also refused to quash the subpoena on these grounds.  The court then explained that the YWCA’s arguments raised another concern: whether defendant should have sought a court order under Rule 17(c)(3), which provides that a subpoena requiring the production of a victim’s confidential or personal information from a third party may only be served by court order and after providing notice to the victim so that the victim may move to quash, modify, or otherwise object to the subpoena.  The court found that it was unclear whether the subject of the requested documents was the “victim” of defendant’s criminal activity, but noted that the YWCA’s motion suggested that she might have been.  As a result, the court directed the YWCA to hold its compliance with the subpoena in abeyance until further court order.  It also ordered defendant to show cause as to whether compliance with Rule 17(c)(3) is required and, if so, to demonstrate how she has complied, or intends to comply, with the Rule.