Case of the Day: In re Roebers
Posted on July 13, 2012
The case of the day is In re Roebers (N.D. Cal. 2012). The applicant was a party to a divorce case in the Circuit Family Court in Dublin, Ireland. Her husband had filed papers in the Dublin proceeding that contained allegations that made it clear to the wife that he had illegally accessed her emails and online accounts. The wife therefore brought an ex parte application for judicial assistance under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 seeking issuance of subpoenas to various websites, in the hopes of discovering the IP addresses that accessed her accounts and thus tying her husband to what she believed was the illegal access.
Under § 1782, the target of the subpoena must reside or be found in the district where the application is pending. The wife sought to serve subpoenas on firms such as Google and Yahoo, which of course have offices in the Northern District of California. But the addresses on the subpoenas were all outside of the district, for no good reason that I can tell from the decision. For example, the wife gave a Sacramento address for Google (Sacramento is in the Eastern District of California, I think) and a Los Angeles address for Yahoo (LA is in the Central District). And so the judge denied the application without prejudice.
I’m not sure who is to blame for this. Was the judge wrong not to accept what everybody knows, namely that Google’s headquarters are in Mountain View? Or was the wife wrong not to put addresses in the Northern District of California on the subpoenas or otherwise to let the judge know the fact of the matter? This is an odd case, indeed.