Pandemic No Excuse for Failing to Respond to Subpoena Served Long Before Pandemic Began

On July 8, 2021, the First Department issued a decision in Sang Cheol Woo v. Spackman2021 NY Slip Op. 04287, holding that the COVID pandemic was no excuse for failing to respond to a subpoena issued before the pandemic began, explaining:

Clear and convincing evidence supports the court’s entry of the contempt order. The record established that Spackman disobeyed the plain terms of the court’s earlier order requiring compliance with the subpoena, which clearly mandated that he respond to the subpoena fully, completely, and truthfully by March 10, 2020. Spackman failed to provide any answers to the subpoena by the deadline, submitting his first responses nearly three months later. When Spackman finally did respond to the subpoena in June of 2020, the information provided was demonstrably incomplete and untruthful.

Spackman’s reliance on the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for his noncompliance falls short. He was served with the subpoena in June of 2019, months before the pandemic emerged. Moreover, not all of the information Spackman was ordered to turn over required collection from third parties or outside sources. Finally, Spackman’s failure to appear at the contempt hearing itself — despite having been offered the option of attending via videoconference, and being on notice that his failure to appear could result in his arrest — was in and of itself sufficient grounds for contempt.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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