The “100-Mile Colonial Leash”: The Durability of the Federal Subpoena Rule in Twenty-First-Century Multidistrict Litigation

Comment by Chloe M. Chetta

Procedural problems unique to multidistrict litigation recently led to a split among and within the nation’s federal district courts. Judges enforced the federal 100-mile subpoena rule differently for parties and party officers compelled to testify at trial. These divergent judicial opinions ultimately required congressional intervention. However, Congress’s recent amendments, which reinforce the long-standing rule, are inconsistent with the ideals of multidistrict litigation. To adhere to the goal of securing the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of every action, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules must recognize that traditional limitations on a judge’s procedural authority to compel witness testimony will no longer suffice. This Comment proposes a solution to this persistent problem by amending Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 to eliminate the 100-mile subpoena rule in multidistrict litigation, finally freeing the modern judicial process from archaic restraints and promoting the administration of justice on a national scale.


89 Tul. L Rev. 277 (2014)