Definition of subpoena in English:

subpoena

(also subpoena ad testificandum)

nounPlural subpoenas

Law
  • A writ ordering a person to attend a court.

    ‘a subpoena may be issued to compel their attendance’
    mass noun ‘they were all under subpoena to appear’
    • ‘Complex legal standards apply to the level of review and judicial oversight necessary before police can obtain the warrants, subpoenas, or court orders required to compel disclosure of these records.’
    • ‘It held that if an individual does not comply with a subpoena or order issued by the Tribunal, he could be held in contempt of the Tribunal and the specific contempt procedure could be set in motion.’
    • ‘Under normal law, a plaintiff would file a lawsuit against an offending party and then use the court system to get subpoenas or court orders for information relevant to the lawsuit.’
    • ‘Even if it is a US bank which is ordered by a US subpoena, other common law courts have applied traditional conflict-of-laws analysis.’
    • ‘Further, the day-to-day administration of criminal justice functions with many witnesses who are not under subpoena and who attend voluntarily to give evidence.’
    order, command, directive, direction, decree, edict, injunction, mandate, dictate, commandment, diktat, demand, bidding, requirement, stipulation, charge, ruling, pronouncement
    View synonyms

verbsubpoenaed, subpoenas, subpoena'd, subpoenaing

[with object]Law
  • 1Summon (someone) with a subpoena.

    ‘the Queen is above the law and cannot be subpoenaed’
    • ‘The defence could have subpoenaed him but they could not force him to talk to them.’
    • ‘A Victorian coroner has subpoenaed the man acquitted of one the State's most notorious murders to give evidence at another inquest into the death.’
    • ‘The appellant was unable to subpoena the necessary witnesses.’
    • ‘In addition, in July several people were subpoenaed to testify about their protest activities before a grand jury convened in Missouri.’
    • ‘Your office could do more, the witnesses were not subpoenaed and brought along, and the magistrate is sure to have plenty to do.’
    summon, summons, serve with a summons, serve with a writ, call
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    1. 1.1 Require (a document or other evidence) to be submitted to a court of law.
      ‘the decision to subpoena government records’
      • ‘Criminal defendants, like civil defendants, should be able to freely conduct depositions, subpoena documents and witnesses, and serve interrogatories.’
      • ‘It doesn't have the power to subpoena documents, evidence, or testimony, either.’
      • ‘I wish to subpoena documents from the Medical Board of Victoria…’
      • ‘My learned friend took you to an early stage of the proceedings where the accused had subpoenaed documents.’
      • ‘The grand jury subpoenaed documents from Condit last year.’

Origin

Late Middle English (as a noun): from Latin sub poena ‘under penalty’ (the first words of the writ). Use as a verb dates from the mid 17th century.

Pronunciation

subpoena

/səˈpiːnə/