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What Is a Subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order used to compel a non-party witness to appear at a trial, hearing, or deposition to testify or produce documents or things.
What Are the Different Types of Subpoenas?
There are two types of subpoenas: a deposition subpoena and a trial subpoena.
A deposition subpoena is used to:
- Compel the witness to appear to testify at a deposition.
- Compel a person or records custodian to produce business records for copying.
- Compel a person to appear at a deposition to testify and produce documents, electronically-stored information, or tangible things.
A trial subpoena is used to:
- Compel the witness to appear to testify at a trial or hearing.
- Compel a person or records custodian to deliver business records for copying for use at trial.
- Compel a person to appear at a trial or hearing to testify and produce documents, electronically-stored information, or tangible things.
How to Get a Subpoena
The clerk of the court where the case is pending may issue a subpoena on a blank, fillable form, already signed by the court and containing the court seal. Attorneys may issue subpoenas using the mandatory, fillable forms without the clerk’s signature or court seal.
If the witness lives in another state, you must obtain a subpoena from a court where the witness lives or have a subpoena issued by an attorney licensed to practice law in that state.
Special notice and timing procedures may apply in your state if the subpoena seeks the production of personal records of a consumer or employee.
Challenging a Subpoena
Either the nonparty witness who has been subpoenaed, an interested person, or any party to the action, may challenge a subpoena.
A subpoena may be challenged because:
- It was not properly served.
- The documents requested are privileged or irrelevant.
- The documents requested are not adequately described.
- It would be unduly burdensome to comply with the subpoena.
- Compliance would violate the witness’s right of privacy.
To challenge a subpoena, you may:
- File a motion to quash the subpoena.
- Serve written objections to the document request.
- Seek a protective order to protect you from unreasonable demands or the invasion of your privacy.
Enforcing a Subpoena
A subpoena may be enforced by:
- Filing a motion to compel.
- Filing a proceeding for contempt of court.
- Filing a civil action seeking damages for the witness’s failure to comply with the subpoena.
What Are the Consequences for Not Responding to a Subpoena?
If you do not comply with a subpoena or do not timely respond, you may be subject to penalties, including:
- Monetary sanctions
- A order requiring payment of attorney’s fees
Do I Need an Attorney If I Am Served with a Subpoena?
If you have been subpoenaed or need to subpoena someone, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney immediately because they will be able to explain the situation and advise you of your rights and the proper procedures to follow.
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Last Modified: 07-11-2014 02:26 PM PDT
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