How To Subpoena A Small Claims Witness
Learn how to “subpoena” a witness who you need to attend your small claims hearing to testify or provide documents you will require to prove or defend your small claims case.
A witness may be the difference between winning and losing your case. If you are not sure whether a witness will voluntarily appear at the hearing, you might consider issuing a subpoena. A “subpoena” is a court order that tells someone to produce certain evidence (documents, for example) or to attend a court hearing.
TIP! If possible, it’s usually a good idea to interview your witnesses before the hearing to avoid any surprises. But you should never try to change your witness’s story!
Q&A – Small Claims Subpoenas
What is the difference between a subpoena and a subpoena “duces tecum”?
A subpoena is an order requiring a person to attend a particular event or proceeding, such as a small claims hearing. A subpoena duces tecum is an order requiring a person to produce documents or other things. In a small claims case, you can subpoena a witness to appear at your small claims hearing and testify only, or you can subpoena a witness to testify and bring documents with them.
How do I get a subpoena?
If you are representing yourself, you must have the court issue the subpoena before you serve it. (JCRCP 45.) To do that, fill out a subpoena form and be sure to include the following information:
- The name of the court where your case is filed
- The title of the action
- The case number
- A command that a specific person appear at a stated date, time, and place to testify (or testify and provide documents)
You must then submit your completed subpoena form to the clerk who will “issue” the subpoena (meaning the clerk will sign or stamp it). You will then need to “serve” (deliver) your subpoena to the person named in the subpoena who you are requiring to appear.
A form small claims subpoena is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download it on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
SMALL CLAIMS SUBPOENA (HENDERSON ONLY)
To learn about filling out court forms and filing, click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing.
How must a subpoena be served?
You must arrange to have the subpoena served personally on the person named in the subpoena. The subpoena can be served by a constable, sheriff, private process server, or any person over eighteen years old who is not a party to the case. Along with the subpoena, you must also serve a check for a witness fee. The fees are currently $26 a day plus $0.26 per mile (estimate the number of miles for a round trip to the court or wherever you are requiring the person to appear). You must file proof of service of the subpoena with the court. An affidavit of service is included as part of the subpoena form. The person who serves the subpoena must fill out the affidavit of service, and you will file the entire subpoena with the court clerk.
Can a person dispute a subpoena?
A person who receives a subpoena can respond by serving a written objection back to the party issuing the subpoena. The objection can refuse whatever inspection, copying, or production was requested in the subpoena. If the party issuing the subpoena disagrees with the objection, they can file a motion with the court to “compel” (force) compliance with the subpoena.
A person who receives a subpoena can also file a motion to “quash” (invalidate) or modify the subpoena if the subpoena requires compliance in an unreasonable amount of time, requires a someone not a party to the case to travel more than 100 miles, requires disclosure of privileged information, or subjects a person to an undue burden.
What is the penalty for disobeying a subpoena?
Failure by any person to obey a subpoena can be deemed a contempt of the court. (NRCP 45(e).) The court can fine the person up to $500 and imprison the person for up to twenty-five days. (NRS 22.100(2).) Additionally, a witness who disobeys a subpoena could be required to pay $100 and all damages sustained as a result of their failure to attend, and a warrant could issue for the witness' arrest. (NRS 50.195, 50.205).