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I am a student. Can I obtain legal advice from your office?

Not unless the legal matter is related to issues arising from your employment or other relationship at JMU or a JMU-sponsored event or activity.

I am an employee of the University. Can I obtain legal advice from your office?

If the legal matter is related to issues arising from your employment at JMU, this office and the office of the Virginia Attorney General may provide legal representation for you, but if it is a purely personal matter, we are unable to provide any advice or referral.

My Department has been served with a lawsuit. What should I do?

Contact University Legal Services immediately. By law, the University must respond to lawsuits within a specified time period after service. Accordingly, it is imperative that you notify us as soon as you are served so we can review the matter and respond in a timely manner.

I've been personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit. I was only doing my job. Will the University defend me?

It is the policy of the Office of the Attorney General to defend state employees who become parties to legal proceedings by virtue of their good faith efforts to perform their responsibilities of employment. An employee personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit should contact our office immediately for more information.

I've been served with a subpoena. What should I do?

Contact our office immediately.  A subpoena is an order of the court.  It may command you to appear at a specified date, time and location to testify, or a subpoena may command you to produce certain documents.  In either case, you should contact us immediately.  It is important to let us review the subpoena to determine the University’s rights and responsibilities for compliance.  Do not ignore a subpoena, even if it addresses something you are unfamiliar with, or asks for documents you don’t have. Failure to respond to a subpoena could result in you or the University being held in contempt of court.

I have been summoned to serve on a jury. I don’t want to serve, because I have too much work to do or will miss too many classes, and it will put me behind.

A jury summons is a legal order from a court, and you are obligated to respond to the summons.  If you fail to respond, the court may hold you in contempt.  If you explain your work or class situation, the court may excuse you from service for a specific summons, but JMU encourages its students and employees to fulfill their civic duty.  Unless there are unusual circumstances involved, your absence from work or class for this purpose should not result in any detriment to you, if you notify your supervisor or faculty members of the summons.

What should I do if I receive a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents?

If you receive a request for documents, data or other information maintained by the University, oral or written, and regardless of whether the request specifically cites FOIA, you should immediately contact University Communications and Marketing at 540-568-3621, and forward a copy of any written request to foia@jmu.edu.  Do not delay in contacting that office after receiving a request.  The University has only five working days from receipt of the request to respond, so it is important to notify them immediately.  Do not begin searching for or copying documents before talking to them.  They will work with you to formulate the response to the request, and will advise you on the requirements of the law.

I have been asked to sign a document as a representative of the University. Can I sign it?

You need specific authority to sign a contract that binds the University.  Contracts are called many things, and any document that purports to bind the Institution may be a contract.  Any signature that is not authorized may obligate you personally to the term of the contract (including any payment requirements), but will not obligate the institution.  The policy on signatories for contracts is Policy 4100:  http://www.jmu.edu/JMUpolicy/policies/4100.shtml.  The policy on signatories for contracts for student groups is Policy 4101:  http://www.jmu.edu/JMUpolicy/policies/4101.shtml.  If you are asked to sign any document to obligate the University or a portion of the Institution, you should contact this office for guidance.

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