A subpoena is a document that orders someone to appear in court for trial. You can get subpoenas from the court, or download the subpoenas online:

At the top, fill in the name and address of the witness you are subpoenaing. If you know the business address and home address, provide both.

The clerk will fill in the rest. The subpoena must then be signed by the judge. If the judge is not immediately available, we will contact you at a telephone number that you provide, and we will call you when the signed subpoena is ready to be picked up.

The subpoena should be served at least two weeks before the trial date. If there are unforeseen circumstances, subpoenas may be served later, but they must always be served at least three days before the trial.

Serving Subpoenas

Take the original and make at least one copy. Have a reliable adult, other than yourself, personally hand-deliver ("serve") a copy of the subpoena to the witness.

Subpoenas must be delivered in person. Do not mail the subpoena to the witness or leave it taped to the person's door. It must be handed to the person or left at the person’s place of residence with someone at least 14 years old. It is better if it is left with an adult and if you can confirm that the witness does reside where you left it.

Have the person who served the subpoena fill out the bottom portion of the original subpoena. Bring the original subpoena with the bottom part filled out to the trial.

Professional Process Servers

You can pay a professional process server to serve subpoenas. Professional process servers are listed in the phone book. The Dane County Sheriff’s Department will also serve subpoenas, for a fee.

Witness Fees

You must also pay the witness when you serve the subpoena. Witness fees are $5.00 + $.20 per mile (round-trip mileage to the courthouse from the person’s home). You will not get witness fees back even if you win the trial.

You must pay the witness by cash, check, money order, or certified check. If possible, have the witness sign a receipt that includes the date and the amount you paid them. Bring the receipt to the trial.

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