How to Serve a Subpoena

There are two types of subpoenas that you may have to serve at some point. A subpoena duces tecum asks for the recipient to produce physical evidence at a hearing. For example, if you are in need of bank statements spanning the last three years but you have no access to the records, you can compel the bank to provide you with the documents via a subpoena.

In contrast, a subpoena ad testificandum is a court order that requires an individual or a corporate entity to attend a hearing, deposition or other mandated legal proceeding. This subpoena asks for testimony.

<h3>Who can serve a subpoena?</h3>
It is important to realize that you cannot serve a subpoena in your own case. Although it is true that anyone over the age of 18 years is legally permitted to serve this type of document, the Cornell University Law School explains that only someone who is not a party to your particular case can undertake this service. Your attorney may send a paralegal or administrative assistant to the address noted in the subpoena. If there is a chance that the intended recipient is unwilling to accept service, the lawyer will most likely engage the services of a professional process server.

<h3>When do you need a process server?</h3>
If an intended recipient is uncooperative, the individual may attempt to elude service of process by moving or evading the individual who brings the subpoena. A process server has the training and experience needed to find someone on the run and hand this individual the legal documents. The professional is also well equipped to handle someone who becomes irate at the idea of having to produce evidence or being called to testify in person.

<h3>Service of process is completed; now what?</h3>
Once a friend, a member of your attorney’s staff or a process server has handed the subpoena to the right individual, your lawyer needs to file a proof of service document with the court. This document explains who served the subpoena, when the service took place and how the service of process was undertaken.

While it is possible to serve a subpoena in a foreign country, it is far more difficult to ensure compliance. In this case, it is imperative to work with an attorney who has experience in dealing with officials and service of process in the target country.

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