A summons is a paper issued by a court informing a person that a complaint has been filed against her. It may be served by a sheriff or other authorized person for service of process, called a process server. The summons states the name of both plaintiff and defendant, the title and file number of the case, the court and its address, the name and address of the plaintiff's attorney, and instructions on how to file a required response to the complaint within a certain time (such as 30 days after service), usually with a form on the back on which information of service of summons and complaint is to be filled out and signed by the process server. A copy of the summons must be served on each defendant at the same time as the complaint to start the time running for the defendant to answer. After service to the defendants, the original summons, along with the "return of service" proving the summons and complaint were served, is filed with the court to show that each defendant was served. An alias summons is a second summons and a pluries summons is a subsequent summons.
The following is an example of a state statute dealing with alias summons:
"25-31-409. Alias summons. If the summons is returned without being served upon any or all of the defendants, the justice, upon the demand of the plaintiff, may issue an alias summons in the same form as the original. The justice may, within a year from the date of filing the complaint, issue as many alias summonses as may be demanded by the plaintiff."