Subpoenas Explained How to Get Evidence You Need in a Lawsuit

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Lawsuits often hinge on crucial evidence, and sometimes that evidence isn’t in the hands of the parties directly involved. This is where subpoenas come in. A subpoena is a powerful legal tool that compels someone to either testify in court or produce specific documents that are relevant to the case.

There are two main types of subpoenas:

  • Witness Subpoena: This compels a person with knowledge of the case to appear in court and give testimony under oath. This could be someone who witnessed an event, has specialized knowledge, or possesses relevant information.

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  • Subpoena Duces Tecum (for producing documents): This type of subpoena requires a person or entity, like a bank or a company, to produce specific documents or records for the court. These documents can be crucial for building your case.

Obtaining evidence from someone outside the lawsuit can be particularly helpful. Imagine you’re suing a company over a faulty product, and an expert witness employed by a competitor possesses a critical report on the product’s design flaws. A subpoena can compel that expert to appear in court and present their findings, strengthening your case.

However, things get trickier when the evidence you need is located out of state.  While a subpoena issued by your local court has authority within your state, it cannot compel someone in another state to appear in court. To obtain evidence from an out-of-state witness or for an out of state subpoena, you’ll need to go through a legal process called “out-of-state service of subpoena.” This typically involves filing paperwork with the court in the witness’s state and may require additional steps depending on that state’s specific laws.

An attorney specializing in litigation can guide you through the intricacies of subpoenas, including out-of-state service. They can help you draft the subpoena, ensure it’s properly served, and navigate any potential legal roadblocks that might arise. With a well-crafted subpoena, you can increase your chances of securing the evidence you need to win your case.


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