Klein & Wilson

What to expect with a subpoena

In the course of litigation, one thing is certain: discovery. This is the process of gathering information from opposing parties (or specifically related third parties) to identify or resolve issues in the case. Sometimes discovery will consist of written interrogatories that will need to be answered within a certain amount of time. In some circumstances, a subpoena will be served.

A subpoena is a written declaration that requires a party or witness to attend a deposition or provide documents in preparation for a trial or hearing. This post will highlight two basic categories of subpoenas and their differences. 

Deposition subpoenas – As we alluded to earlier, deposition subpoenas require the attendance of a party to provide testimony under oath. The subpoena will include the date, place and time of the deposition and sometimes will include the subject matter of the deposition. These subpoenas can also be given to compel a non-party witness to attend.

Trial depositions – This type of subpoena compels attendance at a trial or any non-deposition matter, such as a status hearing, court-ordered mediation or an arbitration. A “notice to attend” can compel parties to attend these hearings, where a trial subpoena is commonly used to compel a non-party witness to attend and provide testimony.

The rules regarding who can be subpoenaed are quite broad. Essentially, any person or corporate entity (including limited liability companies) residing in the state of California may be subpoenaed. Witnesses are entitled to fees and mileage according to California law.

If you have been served with a subpoena and have additional questions about how to respond, an experienced business litigation attorney can advise you. 

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