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Encyclopedia > Subpoena

A subpoena is "a command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a certain matter."[1] The term is from the Middle English suppena and the Latin phrase sub poena meaning "under penalty."[2] The term may also be spelled "subpena."[3] Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...


A subpoena is used to compel the testimony of witnesses in a trial or other adversarial proceeding. Subpoenas are issued by the clerk of the court (see below) in the name of the judge presiding over the case in which the witness is to testify. (Additionally, court rules often permit lawyers to issue subpoenas themselves in their capacity as officers of the court.) Typically subpoenas are issued "in blank" and it is the responsibility of the lawyer representing the plaintiff or defendant on whose behalf the testimony is to be given to serve the subpoena on the witness. In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... This article is about witnesses in law courts. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... A court clerk, in French English clerk to the court or in American English clerk of the court is an officer of the court whose responsibilities include maintaining the records of a court. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A lawyer, according to Blacks Law Dictionary, is a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law. ... A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainer, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ... A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ... It has been suggested that Process agent be merged into this article or section. ...


The subpoena will usually be on the letterhead of the court where the case is lodged, naming the parties to the case, and being addressed by name to the person whose testimony is being sought. It will contain the language "You are hereby commanded to report in person to the clerk of this court" or similar, describing the specific location and scheduled date and time of the appearance. Some issuing jurisdictions include an admonishment advising the subject of the criminal penalty for failure to comply with a subpoena, and reminding him or her not to leave the court facilities until excused by a competent authority.


The subpoena has its source in English common law and it is now used almost with universal application throughout the Anglo-American common law world. However, for Civil proceedings in England and Wales, the term has been replaced by witness summons, as part of reforms to replace Latin terms with easier to understand English terms. English law is a formal term of art that describes the law for the time being in force in England and Wales. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

Contents

Issuance of subpoenas in civil matters in U.S. Federal courts

In non-criminal matters in U.S. Federal courts, the rules of procedure provide (in part):

(3) The clerk shall issue a subpoena, signed but otherwise in blank, to a party requesting it, who shall complete it before service. An attorney as officer of the court may also issue and sign a subpoena on behalf of
(A) a court in which the attorney is authorized to practice; or
(B) a court for a district in which a deposition or production is compelled by the subpoena, if the deposition or production pertains to an action pending in a court in which the attorney is authorized to practice.[4]

Many state courts in the U.S. have adopted similar procedures.


Subpoenas and Congress

The United States Congress also has the power to issue subpoenas and can punish individuals who fail to comply by contempt of Congress, which is similar to contempt of court. Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political groups (as of November 7, 2006 elections) Democratic Party Republican... Contempt of Congress is the act of obstructing the work of the United States Congress or one of its committees. ... Contempt of court is a court ruling which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, deems an individual as holding contempt for the court, its process, and its invested powers. ...


Notes

  1. ^ Black's Law Dictionary, p. 1279 (5th ed. 1979).
  2. ^ Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 1160 (8th ed. 1976).
  3. ^ See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 1429; 18 U.S.C. § 3333(c)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 1968(c); and 28 U.S.C. § 1365.
  4. ^ Rule 45(a)(3), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Blacks Law Dictionary, 7th edition Blacks Law Dictionary is the definitive law dictionary for the law of the United States. ... Title 18 of the US Code deals with Crimes and Criminal Proceedings in five parts: Part I - Crimes Part II - Criminal Procedure Part III - Prisons and Prisoners Part IV - Correction of Youthful Offenders Part V - Immunity of Witnesses Title 18, specifically Part 1 > Chapter 113B > § 2331 and § 2332a(a)), is... Title 18 of the US Code deals with Crimes and Criminal Proceedings in five parts: Part I - Crimes Part II - Criminal Procedure Part III - Prisons and Prisoners Part IV - Correction of Youthful Offenders Part V - Immunity of Witnesses Title 18, specifically Part 1 > Chapter 113B > § 2331 and § 2332a(a)), is... Title 18 of the US Code deals with Crimes and Criminal Proceedings in five parts: Part I - Crimes Part II - Criminal Procedure Part III - Prisons and Prisoners Part IV - Correction of Youthful Offenders Part V - Immunity of Witnesses Title 18, specifically Part 1 > Chapter 113B > § 2331 and § 2332a(a)), is... Title 28 is the portion of the United States Code (federal statutory law) that governs the Federal Judicial System. ... The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) govern civil procedure in the United States district courts, or more simply, court procedures for civil suits. ...

See also

Subpoena Duces Tecum (Latin for: bring with under penalty of punishment). ... A subpoena ad testificandum is a court summons to appear and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. ... A summons is a legal document issued by a court (a judicial summons) or by an administrative agency of government (an administrative summons) for various purposes. ...

External links and references

  • What is a Subpoena? Gives advice for Americans on what to do if "you have received a legal document called a subpoena".
  • [1] Artice about how the President vows to block all efforts to subpoena staff in prosecutor probe
  • Administrative Subpoenas for the FBI: A Grab for Unchecked Executive Power Article criticizing the subpoena powers of the FBI
  • DMCA Subpoenas Article warning against internet abuses of subpoenas
  • Advice for UK citizens on subpoenas from foreign courts

  Results from FactBites:
 
Subpoena - definition of Subpoena in Encyclopedia (168 words)
A subpoena (pronounced 'suh-pee-nuh') is a writ commanding a person to appear under penalty (from Latin).
Usually it can be issued by a judge or by the lawyer representing the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil trial or by the prosecutor or the defense attorney in a criminal proceeding.
A common complaint against subpoenas is that they take away a person's Fifth Amendment right (the right to remain silent in court) in the U.S.
NodeWorks - Encyclopedia: Subpoena duces tecum (94 words)
Subpoena duces tecum (Latin for "bring with under penalty of punishment").
In law a subpoena (literally "under punishment") is a court order requiring a person's appearance, also called a "summons." A subpoena duces tecum is a specific form of subpoena requiring that a person bring certain documents or other evidence to the court.
Similar to subpoena ad testificandum (writ of summons to testify) but including clauses to bring in hand books, papers, etc. for the court.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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