Subpoena (Ro.: citaţie, De. : ~ Ladung, Fr.: assignation à témoigner, n.f./ assignation à comparaître, n.f./ citation à comparaître, n.f., Gr.:  κλήτευση, Cz.: soudní předvolání svědkovi) (See also: court order, mandate, summons, testimony, warrant, writ) = a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction, which orders an individual or an organisation to provide physical evidence or testify under penalty of failure.

The term subpoena has its roots in the Latin phrase 'sub poena', which directly translates into 'under penalty'. The penalty for not obeying the court-ordered command can entail either civil or criminal charges, depending on the gravity of the offence and on the applicable legislation. 

A subpoena is usually requested by an attorney and it is issued by a clerk of the court, being served on an individual in any of the following ways: by personal delivery, by e-mail, or by certified mail to the last known address.

In Romania, a subpoena is a procedural act used in both civil and criminal proceedings, its main purpose being to inform the participants in the trial of the term when the dispute is about to be debated in court, as well as to order a person to present himself or herself in front of the judge at a future moment. 


Useful links

Legislation - Subpoena Regulations, United States Courts [English] - Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 45, USA [English] - Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 17, USA [English] - Criminal Procedure Act 1986 No 209, New South Wales, Australia [English] - Romanian Civil Procedure Code, Art. 157 [Romanian] - Romanian Civil Procedure Code, Art. 163 [Romanian] - Writ of Subpoena Act 1805, UK [English] - Federal Courts Rules, Art. 41, 42, 43, 158, 504, Canada [English] - Romanian Criminal Procedure Code, Art. 258 [Romanian] - Romanian Criminal Procedure Code, Art. 260 [Romanian]

Organisations and associations - National Conference of State Legislatures, Legislative Subpoenas (USA)

Online Publications - Subpoenas, Practitioner's Guide to Criminal Law - Subpoenas, Pennsylvania Newspaper Handbook - What Is a Subpoena?, FindLaw


Barsky, A.E, Gould, J.W, 2002, Clinicians in Court: A Guide to Subpoenas, Depositions, Testifying, and Everything Else You Need to Know, New York, The Guilford Press

Born, Gary, 1996, International Civil Litigation in United States Courts: Commentary & Materials, 3rd edition, USA, Kluwer Law International

Walter, Janis, Blanchard, Roderick D., 2006, Litigation and Trial Practice, 6th edition, New York, Thomson Delmar Learning

Practical use - How to Subpoena Witnesses and Documents, Washington Law Help - How to Subpoena Documents, NOLO Law for All - Directions for Obtaining and Serving a Subpoena, Minnesota OAH - General-Subpoena Form, DC Government OAH - Information for persons served with a subpoena or copy of a subpoena, Federal Circuit Court of Australia


By Mircea Farcău