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Can I opose to a Civil Subpoena?

Van Nuys, CA |

Can I opose to a Civil Subpoena? It says I have to appear at trial. I am not a party to the action. How can I object?

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Attorney answers 3


You need a valid reason not to appear. If you have one, the proper method is to file a Motion to Quash the subpoena. Generally, you will need the assistance of a lawyer to raise the necessary issues and facts to do so. The party serving the subpoena also is required to tender the statutory witness fees. If this is not done and no arrangements for payment have been made, your appearance may not be required.

The information given is generic and does not constitute legal advice, which would only be given after a complete review of the specific facts of your case.


Non-parties can be subpoenaed to testify in a deposition or at trial.

You would need a legal reason why you should not be compelled to appear. For example, was the subpoena improperly served? Or did you ask for but were not given the witness fee? In these situations, you need to file Motion to Quash the Subpoena.

Otherwise, you can't object to a civil subpoena simply because it is inconvenient for you or because you don't feel like going. A subpoena is a court order, and you could be held in contempt of court if you fail to appear.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


I agree with my colleagues that the proper response to a subpoena is a motion to quash. Failing that, if a subpoenaed party refuses to appear, it will be subject to contempt proceedings. Non-parties can be subpoenaed to appear in a civil case.

I have been licensed to practice in the State of Oregon since 1990. I am not offering legal advice regarding your question, only general information regarding the law. You are not my client nor am I your attorney unless we sign a retainer agreement.

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