Civil Procedure Subpoena Law and Legal Definition

A subpoena is an order directed to an individual commanding him to appear in court on a certain day to testify or produce documents in a pending lawsuit. The power to subpoena a person is granted officers of the court, such as clerks of courts, attorneys and judges. A person may be subpoenaed to appear in court or any designated location to provide testimony for trial or deposition or produce documents or other evidence. A subpoena which requests items be brought with the person is called a "subpoena duces tecum".

If the person is required to travel more than a minimum distance, they may be required to be compensated for reasonable travel expenses. Failure to comply with a subpoena may subject a person to being held in contempt of court if it appears the absence was intentional or without cause. County sheriffs often deliver subpoenae and are familiar with the procedures to be followed.