Franklin County to begin issuing subpoenas via Twitter

COLUMBUS, OH (HJ) – If you have ever had to issue or deliver a subpoena, you know what a hassle and expense it can be. In Columbus, OH, subpoena issuing by the County Sheriff’s department took up as much as 8% of officers’ time. With recent budget crackdowns, the county is looking into new ways to save money. One of those ways is to digitally serve subpoenas via the online social media site, Twitter.

Current county laws do not allow subpoenas to be e-mailed to a private computer. Subpoenas must be issued in a public forum. Because Twitter is a public entity, issuing subpoenas is legal and only takes a few minutes as opposed to days or sometimes weeks.

Franklin County began the process by digitizing the notary service. A digital notary can digitally affix their certificate to attest the execution of the document, as long as the constituent provides an on-line photo and bio to prove who they are. Currently, only and are being accepted as legal forms of on-line identity.

With the notary public’s digital stamp and full documents kept digitally in an online accessible database, the constituent can then have a third party, who has a Twitter account, issue the papers, online, in a public forum. The third party needs to ensure that the person to be subpoenaed has at least one follower. The “tweet” must include some legal jargon, the appearance date, the notary’s digital stamp or Twitter user name, and a link to the on-line documents.

Franklin County expects to save over $45,000 in 2009. The county has not yet created a clever way to put the words subpoena and Twitter together.

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