Notary Public & Legal Support Network Blog

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Massachusetts Subpoena

What is a Subpoena?
A Subpoena is an order that commands a person to do any of the following:

>> appear in court to testify at a hearing:

>> appear in court to testify AND produce tangible evidence (photos, payroll records, etc.);

>> appear before a government agency to testify and/or produce tangible evidence (photos, documents, records, etc.) for a hearing being conducted by the agency. Such agencies include the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA), Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), etc.;

>> appear at a deposition to testify and/or produce tangible evidence. A deposition is sworn testimony taken out of court before a an officer authorized to administer oaths. Such officers can be a Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, or someone appointed by the court to take a deposition.

How can a Subpoena help me?

For example, if you're going through a divorce and need to see how much your spouse makes, you can get a Subpoena and order your spouse's employer to produce payroll records. You can get copies of his/her weekly paystubs, W2 Forms, 401k information, etc. You can also subpoena more information from the employer such as health care plans, available plan types, commissions paid, etc.

Or, you can simply Subpoena a person to appear at a hearing or trial to offer his testimony.

I want a witness summoned to testify about what he knows. Can a Subpoena help me?

If you have a witness that you need at your hearing or trial to testify, you should always subpoena them to appear even if they agree to show up voluntarily. Let's say, for example, that Steve is a witness. He tells you that he will appear at your trial to offer his testimony. Your trial date comes and Steve decides he doesn't want to get involved and doesn't appear. What can you do? Nothing! You didn't summons him so there is no legal recourse you can take. It is your responsibility to summons your witnesses.

If you had subpoenaed Steve to show up and he failed to show, you could ask the court to issue a warrant to bring him into court. In addition, if his testimony is important to your case and he fails to appear after being subpoenaed, you could ask the court to continue the hearing or trial to another day because the witness failed to appear.
Always subpoena your witness!

What is a Witness Summons?

A Witness Summons is the same thing as a Subpoena. In Massachusetts, they are used interchangeably. Usually in a civil case, the word "subpoena" is used. In a criminal case, "witness summons" is used.

How can I get a Subpoena issued?

In accordance with Rule 45 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure (Mass.R.Civ.P.), a notary public may issue subpoenas. All you have to do is fill out the Online Subpoena Request Form and give us basic information about your case. This form will ask you for information that will enable us to properly draft and issue a Subpoena.

You may also request a subpoena by fax. All you have to do is fill out the Subpoena Request Form and fax it to: (978) 882-0234.

After we draft (type out) the Subpoena, one of our notaries public will issue it. Then it will be directed to a Constable or Process Server who will serve it on the witness in accordance with the law.

Our subpoenas hold the same weight and authority as if they were issued by the Court. In fact, the subpoenas are issued in the name of the Court or agency.

I read on another website that I can use a fill-in-the-blank form and take it to a notary public to notarize.

Some websites offer fill-in-the-blank forms. Are you willing to jeopardize the outcome of your case by drafting a subpoena yourself? Unless if you're an attorney or paralegal experienced in drafting subpoenas, I advise you not to use fill-in-the-blank subpoena forms.

Besides, most notaries public will refuse to issue a subpoena and will direct you to a judge or law office. Most notaries have never seen a subpoena because they don't work in the legal field. The majority of notaries public work in banks or other financial institutions.

Also, the wording used in a subpoena can invalidate it and make it unenforceable. It is very important that your Subpoena complies with the law and applicable court rules in order for it to be enforceable. Do you really want to take the chance in filling out a generic, fill-in-the-blank form?

Visit our Massachusetts Subpoena Services webpage at:

Do you serve Subpoenas and/or Witness Summonses?

Yes, after we draft and issue a subpoena, one of our Constables or Process Servers will serve the subpoena in accordance with the law. It is best to have an experienced official serve your court process (paperwork) because if it isn't properly served, the improper service is invalidated and unenforceable.

Be sure to visit the
Massachusetts Subpoena Services website!


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