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Legal Documents Serving - Difference Between a Summons and Subpoena

Legal Documents Serving - Difference Between a Summons and Subpoena

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Published by Xbox360MAC
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Published by: Xbox360MAC on Dec 09, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/09/2010

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Legal Documents Serving - Differencebetween a summons and subpoena
A summons and a subpoena are both tools lawyersuse in civil litigation. The key difference betweenthe two is that a summons is directed to someonewho has been sued, and a subpoena is directed tosomeone who has possession of records orinformation related to a lawsuit.
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SummonsA summons is a document that, literally, summons adefendant to appear in court. Along with thecomplaint, it is the opener in a civil lawsuit, thedocument that starts the ball rolling toward trial.
 
 The summons reads something like this: You havebeen sued. You have 30 days to appear in court todefend yourself and so on. The 30 days mentionedin the summons begins to run once the defendant isserved, or given a copy of the summons.Defendants can be served in different ways. Thetraditional method is for a law enforcement officeror process server to deliver a copy of the summonsto the defendant. Other permissible methods,depending on the circumstances, may includeleaving a copy of the summons at the defendantshome and mailing a supplementary copy; ordelivering a copy of the summons to an office if thedefendant is a corporation; or publishing a copy of the summons in a newspaper if the defendantslocation is unknown.Every summons is accompanied by a documentcalled a complaint. The complaint is a summary of the plaintiffs case against the defendant. It explainswhat the plaintiff thinks the defendant did wrong,
 
and what relief the plaintiff is asking the court toimpose.SubpoenaA subpoena is a legal document that requires anindividual to appear as a witness in a legalproceeding, even though that person is not himself or herself a party to the lawsuit. A subpoena isserved in much the same way as a summons. Whena subpoena is served, it must include a daily witnessfee and an amount to cover the witnesss mileageexpenses to drive to the place where the testimonywill be given.A witness must appear if subpoenaed. He may file amotion to quash the subpoena to try to get out of it, and he may attempt to negotiate the scope of histestimony, but he cannot simply ignore thesubpoena and not show up in court. If asubpoenaed witness fails to appear in court asrequired, a judge may issue a bench warrant for thewitnesss arrest.

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