“I have received a subpoena from a process server, what does it mean?”  It is a question that our litigation attorneys hear all too often. Today we have put together this informative post to explain to you what a subpoena is, and what you should do when you receive a subpoena.

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is an order issued by the court.

In Wisconsin, parties involved in litigation may issue a subpoena to a third-party (non-party to the case) for the purposes of discovery and for testimony at trial. A subpoena may command a person or entity (or representative of an entity) to
(1) appear for a deposition,
(2) produce documents, and/or
(3) appear at trial to provide testimony.

Here are a few things every company should know about subpoenas:

(1) Generally, the subpoena must be served upon you at least 10 days before the deposition, trial, or when documents are to be produced. The reason for this is in part to allow the subpoenaed party the opportunity to ask the court to quash the subpoena (i.e., void the subpoena so the subpoenaed party is not legally bound to respond or appear).

(2) The rules on the scope of permissible discovery still apply. A party issuing the subpoena is not entitled to the production of documents that are not relevant to the subject matter of the case.

(3) In order to determine whether a motion to quash is appropriate, ask the requesting party for a copy of the complaint, answer, and other pleadings in the case. This will help you determine whether the scope of the documents requested in the subpoena are overbroad or irrelevant. If they are, you can move the court to quash the subpoena in whole or in part.

(4) You are entitled to compensation. If you are commanded to appear at a deposition or to testify at trial, you are entitled to witness and mileage fees. You may also receive document copying charges.

(5) Be cautious about the documents you are producing. Although you may not arbitrarily refuse to produce documents that are otherwise relevant and non-privileged, the information you do disclose could support the basis for a party in the case to assert a third-party claim against you. Do not waive your right to quash a subpoena.

(6) Require a protective order if the documents contain sensitive information. A protective order generally limits who can see the documents and how they may be used in court.

(7) Talk to a litigation attorney to determine your rights. Call one of our experienced Green Bay litigation attorneys today at 920-499-5700.

If you are curious to learn even more about Wisconsin Subpoena Law, check out Wisconsin State Legislature’s Website.

Subpoena vs Summons (FAQ)

Many times these two terms get mixed up. They both are legal documents that call a business or person into court. The difference has to do with why they are being called to court. A subpoena is a legal document that requires you to testify or otherwise provide evidence for a case. A summons is a legal document that requires you to appear in court in response to a charge or other violation.

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