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What Are the Different Types of Subpoenas Used in a Lawsuit

Subpoenas play a pivotal role in the legal system, acting as powerful tools to gather evidence and testimonies in legal proceedings. In Texas, like in other states, there are different types of subpoenas designed to suit various circumstances and legal needs. This blog aims to shed light on the various types of subpoenas used in Texas, providing a comprehensive understanding of their respective purposes and applications.

  • Subpoena Duces Tecum: The Subpoena Duces Tecum, commonly known as SDT, is used when the party requesting the subpoena seeks not only the testimony of a witness but also specific documents, records, or tangible evidence in their possession. This type of subpoena is especially valuable in civil cases, where relevant documents and evidence are crucial to substantiate claims or defenses. The recipient of an SDT is legally obligated to produce the requested documents along with appearing for testimony.
  • Witness Subpoena: The Subpoena Ad Testificandum is the most common type of subpoena. It compels a person to appear and testify as a witness in a legal proceeding. Unlike the Subpoena Duces Tecum, it does not request the production of documents or evidence. The testimony of a witness is essential for both civil and criminal cases, as it helps to establish facts, support arguments, and uncover the truth.
  • Subpoena for Deposition: A Subpoena for Deposition is used to summon a witness to give their testimony outside the trial or hearing setting, usually in an attorney's office or another designated location. This type of subpoena is frequently utilized to preserve testimony and gather evidence before the trial, ensuring that witness statements are recorded and can be used during the trial proceedings.
  • Subpoena for Records Deposition: When certain records are held by an institution, corporation, or government agency, and those records are crucial for a case, a Subpoena for Records Deposition can be issued. This subpoena compels the custodian of records to produce the requested documents or records for inspection and copying. It is a valuable tool for obtaining important information held by third parties.
  • Subpoena to Attend Grand Jury: A Subpoena to Attend Grand Jury is employed in criminal cases where the grand jury is investigating potential criminal conduct. The subpoena orders a person to appear before the grand jury to provide testimony. Grand juries play a significant role in determining whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against an individual.
  • Subpoena for Medical Records: In cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, or other healthcare-related matters, a Subpoena for Medical Records is used to request the medical history and records of the individuals involved. These records are crucial in assessing damages and providing necessary evidence for the case.

The two most common subpoenas are the Subpoenas Duces Tecum and the Witness Subpoenas for a court proceeding or deposition.

It should be noted that in Texas as well as some other jurisdictions, it will not be clear from the title alone what kind of subpoena it is. If that happens, the type of subpoena it is can easily be deduced from its content, since it will either ask the subpoenaed party to bring something (meaning it is a subpoena duces tecum), or not (meaning it is then a witness or deposition subpoena).

Navigating the legal landscape in Texas can be complex, and understanding the different types of subpoenas is vital for ensuring that the right evidence is obtained and presented during legal proceedings. From Subpoenas Duces Tecum to Subpoenas for Medical Records, each type serves a specific purpose, aiding attorneys in their pursuit of justice for their clients. By familiarizing yourself with these various subpoenas, you can better comprehend their significance and the role they play in the Texas legal system.