During the proceeding for enforcement of an administrative subpoena, the court will issue an order requiring the appearance of the witness or the production of the evidence or data within a reasonable time. The order will also provide that in the case of a intentional failure to comply, the person will be subjected to punishment for contempt[i].
The subpoena power has to be confined to “the rudimentary principles of justice,” and the courts will refuse to enforce an administrative subpoena which is not within the bounds of reasonableness[ii].
In order to enforce a subpoena, the court must clarify that the information requested by a party is not unreasonable and oppressive. It is the duty of the court to prevent abuse of its process and to place such limitations upon the subpoena, if it is clear that a subpoena is oppressive and unreasonable.
If a court finds that an investigative order of an administrative agency is only sustainable in part, then it can concur with only part of the demand. Additionally, a court can modify a subpoena if it appears that the subpoena written is too broad or oppressive[iii].
[i] 5 USCS § 555
[ii] Federal Communications Com. v. Cohn, 154 F. Supp. 899 (D.N.Y. 1957)
[iii] FTC v. Rockefeller, 441 F. Supp. 234 (S.D.N.Y. 1977)