Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Subpoenas for Antiwar Protesters

Judge: School must tell feds about war protest
DES MOINES, Iowa - In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered Drake University to turn over records about a gathering of antiwar activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake, subpoenas were served last week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

I've wondered how subpoenas work in the modern era. A subpoena is an order to show up at a particular place and time (usually a courthouse). But the modern high security era raises a possible defense of impossibility to such orders.

If one happens not to possess any photo ID, one can't enter any public buildings (including courthouses). If one has never obtained or destroyed photo IDs and the precursor documents used to obtain them, it is possible that you will not be able to obtain such ID.

I guess you could contact the party ordering you to show up, inform them of the problem, and ask them to solve it. They might have to escort you into the building.

Of course since you won't have ID to show them, they might not have any way of knowing it's you.