Although most of us have been educated with Hollywood’s version of courtroom drama, we may not be as familiar with the real procedural nuts and bolts of a Civil Court case. To start with, it is pretty common knowledge that a civil subpoena is the document used to compel a witness to appear in court. California’s standard civil subpoena Form is SUBP-001 Civil Subpoena for Personal Appearance At Trial or Hearing. Although attorneys can issue a subpoena with no court involvement, non-attorneys must use the Form SUBP-001, which is issued by a court clerk. Other forms including Form SUBP-002, are used to secure the production of records or documents, and compel the attendance at depositions by persons who are not parties to the action or proceedings.
For a non-attorney filling out a California Civil Subpoena SUBP-001 Form there are a few important pieces of information. The first is that in the “Attorney For” field you should write “In Pro Per”, the shortening of Propia Persona, which is Latin for “for oneself” – an indication for the courts that you are representing yourself. When filling in the case number on the lower right hand corner of the first box, you can usually find the case number on the first page of any document that has been filed with the court. All the other information required on the form is relatively straightforward including the names of the plaintiff and defendant, your contact details along with those of the witness you wish to subpoena, and finally the court’s address, the hearing date, the department, division or room number, and the time of the hearing.
When you finish filling out the form you should serve the witness with a copy of the subpoena. Anyone, even you, can serve your subpoena, but it must be done in person and NOT by mail. You should always make two copies of the subpoena form and be sure to serve a copy of the subpoena and not the original form. Be sure to retain the second page of form SUBP-001 called a “proof of service”, which details specifics about how and where the subpoena was served. This must be returned to the clerk after the witness has been served with the first page of the form. It is usually wise to have a disinterested person serve the document in case a dispute arises. Although not issued directly by the court a subpoena has the same compulsory power as a court order, and a person who disobeys a subpoena may be punished for contempt, may which include monetary sanctions.
So, though you may not be ready for the bar just yet, you should now be at least familiar with the basics of a civil Subpoena. Get started filling in your California Civil Subpoena with PDFfiller today and look out Judge Judy!