Serving a Subpoena: What Is It? And How to Serve One

Sep 20 2018 | posted by LORR Team

Subpoenas are legal documents that summon a witness or other important party to attend a court proceeding. They can also be used to request documents, paperwork, or evidence that’s important to a case. Many times, subpoenas are one of the most important puzzle pieces in a legal proceeding.

How to Serve a Subpoena

Since vital testimony and evidence depends on subpoenas, serving them properly — and in a timely manner — is crucial to success. The first step is to fill out the proper forms and obtain the subpoena from the court clerk. Keep in mind that the document must be notarized and signed by the judge or attorney who issued it before it is legally binding. You should also make a second copy of the final document; this copy will go to the witness, while you keep the original.

Next, you will need to find an appropriate process server. (See below for a list of who can legally serve subpoenas.) Your server will need to deliver the subpoena in one of the four legally approved methods. These include:

  • By hand and in person.
  • Via email to the last known email address.
  • Certified or registered mail via the United States Postal Service.
  • Read aloud in person.

The server needs to make every effort to ensure the subpoena goes to the proper person. This includes verifying their full name before hand-delivering it or requesting receipt confirmations via certified mail. The server cannot leave a subpoena if they are not sure it is in the right hands.

Once the subpoena has been served and the correct individual has received the document, the attorney will file what’s called a “proof of service” with their assigned court. This document details who delivered the subpoena, as well as how and when it was served. Be sure to bring the original subpoena form and the proof of service to court, as it may be needed if the witness fails to appear or produce the required documents.

Who Can Serve a Subpoena?

According to the rules of serving a subpoena, anyone over the age of 18 — as long as they’re not involved in the legal proceedings in question — can serve a subpoena. Typically, though, these documents are served by either a sheriff, lawyer, court clerk, notary public, paralegal, administrative assistant, or professional subpoena service (also called a process server). Process servers, like LORR, are generally preferred if you’re dealing with a hard-to-find or difficult witness.

It’s important to note that you cannot serve a subpoena yourself or in your own case.

Other rules for serving a subpoena include:

  • The subpoena must state the court in which it was issued, as well as the legal action and case number. It also must specify a date, time, and place the witness must appear or when they must produce documents by.
  • The server must include fees for attendance and mileage to attend, if the witness will be required in court.
  • If the subpoena calls a witness to appear, the location must be within 100 miles of their residence or place of employment.

The Rules of Civil Procedure outline the full rules and regulations for how and when a federal subpoena must be served. If you’re unsure about whether your subpoena service is following these rules, it is best to use a professional process server that is well-versed in all applicable laws and methods.

Serving a Subpoena in Texas

Though serving a subpoena in Texas isn’t largely different from federal subpoena services, there are a few variations you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re serving a subpoena in the Lone Star State.

For one, subpoenas can only be served by sheriffs, constables, deputies, court clerks, or process servers. Other adults over 18 may serve a subpoena if they are not involved in the case and as long as they have a written order from the court giving them permission. Professional process servers must hold certification from the Judicial Branch Certification Commission (LORR has this!). They also are monitored by a Process Server Certification Board.

Other rules for serving a subpoena in Texas include:

  • Subpoenas cannot be served at the site of (or while someone is entering or leaving) a mediation or dispute resolution session regarding the case in question.
  • Subpoenas cannot be served on Sundays or late at night/early in the morning, unless the person’s schedule only allows for these times.
  • In cases of delinquent tax, subpoenas must be served within 90 days from the date of issuance.
  • No amount of advance notice must be given for subpoenas to appear in court.

Like federal subpoenas, Texas subpoenas also must have a proof of service on file. It should include the witness’s signature, acknowledging receipt of the subpoena, or a statement from the serving, detailing the time, date, and place of the delivery.

Get Help Serving a Subpoena

Serving a subpoena properly and quickly is vital to any legal case, but it’s also a time-consuming and complicated process. Unless you have dedicated subpoena personnel who are well-versed in the process, it can be difficult to serve subpoenas efficiently and effectively all on your own.

That’s where LORR comes in. The go-to citation and subpoena service in Texas, we proudly serve subpoenas throughout the Lone Star State’s biggest cities, including San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Corpus Christi. Our servers have worked with some of the state’s most renowned and well-respective firms and attorneys — and for good reason.

Our process servers can:

  • Help find and serve hard-to-locate witnesses. Some witnesses are simply hard to pin down. They might move often, or they may be outright dodging your attempts at contact. Our professional servers know how to track these difficult parties down and ensure they’re served in a timely fashion that keeps your case on track.
  • Ensure subpoenas are served quickly and per the letter of the law. Failing to follow the rules of procedure can lead to issues with admissibility. Ultimately, this could put important evidence and testimony in jeopardy and threaten an entire case. Our servers are well-versed in procedure law and can make sure your subpoenas are served in the utmost law-abiding methods possible.
  • Serve difficult or uncooperative witnesses. Witnesses often get angry, upset, and violent when served with a subpoena. Don’t put your employees in the line of fire in these situations. Our servers have seen it all and can diffuse difficult and heated situations with ease. We’ll make sure your subpoena is served no matter how problematic the situation may be.
  • Provide proof of delivery once the subpoena has been served. Proof of delivery is crucial when subpoenas are served, and our servers will produce them quickly and immediately after delivery.
  • Take the pressure of service and subpoenas off your plate. Subpoena service is often difficult and time-consuming. Unless you have a large staff and many resources, it can be hard to handle proper and timely subpoena service all on your own. With our professional servers, you get the best of both worlds: peace of mind that your subpoenas are delivered quickly and properly and a hands-off, hassle-free process.

With decades of expertise and local knowledge, we can get your subpoenas served quickly, efficiently, and effectively while you focus on what you do best (winning your case!). Have questions? Wondering how much it costs to serve a subpoena through LORR? Ready to start serving your subpoena? Contact us today for more information.


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