State of North Carolina et al v. Stevens et al
ORDER granting 2 Motion to Quash Subpoena: The Government's motion is GRANTED and Respondent's subpoena directed to Dr. Newton is QUASHED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to serve a copy of this order on the Clerk of Superior Court of Wayne County, North Carolina, and to close this matter. Signed by Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Swank on 11/14/2014. Copy to Clerk of Superior Court, Wayne County, NC. (Lee, L.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
WILLIE CARROLL STEVENS,
This matter is before the court on the Government’s motion to quash the subpoena served
by Respondent on Dr. Rosalyn N. Newton (“Dr. Newton”), an employee of the Social Security
Administration (SSA”). Respondent did not file a response to the Government’s motion and the
time for doing so has expired.
For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant the
Government’s motion and quash the subpoena.
Respondent purported to serve Dr. Newton with a subpoena directing her to appear in the
District Court of Wayne County, North Carolina on October 22, 2014, to testify in a civil action
captioned State of North Carolina v. Willie Carroll Stevens, No. 90-CVD-2328 (Wayne Co. Dist.
Ct.). The Government removed the subpoena proceeding to this court on October 21, 2014,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442. The United States Attorney represents that the state court civil
proceeding in which the subpoena was issued does not involve the United States and appears to
be a child support matter brought by the State of North Carolina against Respondent
The doctrine of sovereign immunity “precludes a state court, and in turn a federal court
on removal, from exercising jurisdiction to compel a government employee to testify contrary to
agency instructions.” Morgan v. Bagley, No. 5:08-CV-217-BR, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49225,
at *2 (E.D.N.C. June 6, 2008) (citing United States ex rel. Touhy v. Ragen, 340 U.S. 462 (1951)).
Thus, a federal employee “may not be forced to comply with [a] subpoena  if a valid regulation
required them not to comply.” Smith v. Cromer, 159 F.3d 875, 879 (4th Cir. 1998).; accord
Morgan, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49225, at *2.
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 301, the SSA has promulgated regulations designed to deal with
requests for testimony and documents from its employees regarding information obtained in the
performance of their official duties. These regulations, set forth at 20 C.F.R. § 403.100 et seq.,
prohibit the disclosure of information obtained in the course of employment, pursuant to a
litigation request or demand, absent express approval of appropriate officials upon request by the
party seeking the information. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 403.100, 403.105.
The subpoena at issue here is governed by the regulations set forth at 20 C.F.R. § 403.100
et seq. because it seeks testimony about information obtained by Dr. Newton in the performance
of her official duties. As Respondent has not shown that he has obtained approval pursuant to
the SSA’s regulations, Dr. Newton is prohibited from providing the testimony sought by
For the foregoing reasons, the Government’s motion is GRANTED and Respondent’s
subpoena directed to Dr. Newton is QUASHED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to serve a copy of
this order on the Clerk of Superior Court of Wayne County, North Carolina, and to close this
This 14th day of November 2014.
KIMBERLY A. SWANK
United States Magistrate Judge
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