A subpoena is an order from the court that requires a person to appear at a specific place, date and time to testify as a witness in a case. In both criminal and civil cases, a subpoena is served on a witness to give testimony in court. A person can be subpoenaed to appear at a deposition, which is sworn testimony taken outside of court. A subpoena may also be served for the production of certain documents to be presented to the court or a party in the case. Ohio Rules of the Court procedures determine how subpoenas are served in criminal or civil cases.
Delivery of Subpoenas in Criminal Cases
Any subpoena issued for a criminal court case, including appearance of witness and/or production of documents, is required to be served by a sheriff, bailiff, coroner, clerk of court, constable, marshal, deputy, municipal or township policeman, an attorney at law or by any person designated by order of the court who is not a party and is not less than eighteen years of age. The person delivering the subpoena must either deliver it to the person it is meant for, read it to that person or leaving it at the intended person's usual place of residence.
Delivery of Subpoena in Civil Cases via Certified or Express Mail
When serving a civil subpoena via certified mail, it is the clerk of courts who does the processing. The clerk prepares the paperwork, including all instructions for requested return receipt when envelope is delivered to the recipient of the subpoena. The clerk also enters the mailing information on the appearance docket and makes a similar entry when the return receipt is received. In the event the subpoena is returned marked failure to deliver, the clerk mails notification to the attorney of record. If there is no attorney of record, then the clerk notifies the party who requested the subpoena. The notifications also enter as information for the appearance docket.
Delivery of Subpoena in Civil Cases via Personal Service
There are instances when delivery of the subpoena is required to be made via personal service. When a subpoena is issued from the Supreme Court, a court of appeals, a court of common pleas, or a county court, the clerk of the court shall deliver the complaint to to the sheriff of the county in which the party to be served resides or may be found. When it is issued from the municipal court, either the bailiff of the court's whose jurisdiction the defendant resides in or to the sheriff of that county. The clerk may also hand the summons to a process server. A process server is someone who has been designated by the court to deliver subpoenas. They must be at least 18 years of age and not a party to the case they are delivering for. A plaintiff may also request personal service by filing a written request with the clerk of court. The subpoena must be delivered within 28 days of issuance.
Read More: How to Object to a Service of a Subpoena
Delivery of Subpoena in Civil Cases via Residence Service
A plaintiff may also request, in writing, that the clerk of court issue a subpoena via residence service. In this method, the clerk delivers the paperwork to a process server, who than has 28 days to deliver the subpoena to the defendant's residence. The subpoena must be left with someone who is at the residence who is of legal age.
Kerry O'Donnell has been writing professionally since 2008, when she began freelancing for the online magazine NewEnglandFilm.com. She later became the website's associate editor. She also serves as an associate editor of books for The Independent online magazine. O'Donnell holds an associate degree in criminal justice.