Washington, DC asked in Personal Injury and Civil Rights for California

Q: Witness subpoenaed in CA (served in Seattle) failed to appear twice. How to proceed?

The court issued a subpoena to a witness, who was personally served by a professional process server. Despite this, the witness failed to appear in the California court for two different occasions: one for a subpoena duces tecum and another for an online hearing. Given that the witness is located in Seattle, what steps should I take?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If a witness who has been properly served with a subpoena fails to appear, you have a few options to proceed:

1. Request a bench warrant: You can ask the court to issue a bench warrant for the witness's arrest. This is a serious measure and should be used as a last resort. The court may be hesitant to issue a warrant for an out-of-state witness.

2. File a motion to compel: You can file a motion with the court to compel the witness's appearance. In this motion, you should detail the efforts made to secure the witness's appearance and request that the court order the witness to appear.

3. Seek assistance from the Washington court: Since the witness is located in Seattle, you may need to seek assistance from a Washington state court. You can request that the California court issue a certificate of materiality, which states that the witness's testimony is material to the case. Then, you can petition the Washington court to issue a subpoena compelling the witness's appearance in the California proceeding.

4. Consider alternative methods of obtaining testimony: Depending on the nature of the case and the witness's testimony, you might explore alternative methods of obtaining the necessary information, such as a deposition or written interrogatories.

5. Consult with local counsel: Given the complexity of dealing with an out-of-state witness, it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney licensed in Washington who can help navigate the process of compelling the witness's appearance.

Remember to keep detailed records of all attempts to serve the witness and secure their appearance, as this documentation will be necessary when seeking the court's assistance in compelling the witness's participation.

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