Federal Agency Investigations: Requirements for the Production of Documents

The United States district courts are frequently called upon to decide whether an administrative agency is entitled to enforcement of a subpoena requesting production of documentary evidence which the person to whom the subpoena is addressed assails as an unnecessary and improper inquisitorial investigation.

Neither the statute nor the decision-landmarks though they both are-offers a convenient rule of thumb to guide the district courts in the intensely difficult problems posed by requests for enforcement of administrative subpoenas.

However, an examination of the decisions passing upon such requests does disclose the standards by which the courts apply the three classic tests, and suggests certain practical guides. This article reports the results of such an examination.