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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  JD, MBA
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Can I be subpoenaed to appear as witness in court to a divorce

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Can I be subpoenaed to appear as witness in court to a divorce case on Saturday to appear Monday?
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

Is is for a deposition? There is no specific amount of notice that must be given, but you must be given a "reasonable" amount of notice. I would certainly argue that you were not given enough notice. Assuming it's inconvenient to appear, I would contact whoever issued the subpoena on Monday and tell them that you will not appear because you are not given reasonable notice and it is inconvenient. The judge will almost certainly rule in your favor, but it shouldn't come to that anyway. I suspect that whoever issued the subpoena will work with you on a different date (that is very common). Monday's date was probably just a placeholder.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So for more clarification. This is for a divorce case already set for June 24th. I am the landlord for the tenant whom is a single mother (29) with two children (4 and 6). I was given a subpoena by her current husband to appear in Washington county courthouse at 0930 AM. I live 1hr and 30 mins away. I have work on Monday. I would have to call in (Sick?) with extremely short notice. The subpoena was signed by the petitioners attorney. It is clearly a template used for generic subpoena's but does say I "May subject you to contempt of court". I notice it say's May but I feel trapped because there's no way for me to get an answer from the court or from the petitioner before Monday. Just wondering if there was any legal grounds I have to stand on.

Hi again.

The legal ground is that you have not been given reasonable notice. Since you were served on Saturday, you have not even been given enough time to talk to your boss to tell him that you won't be at work. That's absurd. I would call the attorney as early as possible (8:00 AM?) and explain that you have not been given enough notice. If the attorney asks the judge to find you in contempt, I think he'll get laughed at. Two days notice, both of which are weekend days is clearly not reasonable notice.
Hi again.

The actual Oregon law states as follows:

§ 419B.902
Service of subpoena
(1) A subpoena may be served by the party or any other person 18 years of age or older. Except as provided in subsections (2), (3) and (4) of this section, the service must be made by delivering a copy to the witness personally. The service must be made so as to allow the witness a reasonable time for preparation and travel to the place of attendance. If the subpoena is not accompanied by a command to appear at trial, hearing or deposition under ORS 419B.884 (Depositions), whether the subpoena is served personally or by mail, copies of a subpoena commanding production and inspection of books, papers, documents or other tangible things before trial must be served on each party at least seven days before the subpoena is served on the person required to produce and permit inspection, unless the court orders a shorter period.

You'll note that the law merely says "reasonable time" for preparation and traveling. But look lower where it says that the party must be given at least 7 days to produce documents, etc. While that 7 day notice is not specifically applicable to your situation (again, "reasonable time" applies in your situation), I would submit that 7 days is likely a good benchmark for your situation as well. Two weekend days is not sufficient.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for helping me. Now this subpoena says "DUCES TECUM" and says that I have to give evidence and testify in the above-entitled matter on behalf of the petitioner. I looked up DUCES TECUM and it looks like that is a request for documents but it doesn't specify what documents. I'm assuming they're referring to documents surrounding the rental situation. Are you saying this legally had to be served 7 days prior to trial?

Hi again.

You're correct that a subpoena duces tecum is served when documents are demanded. It's strange that no documents were requested. Since he didn't specifically ask for documents, I can't say that the 7 day notice period is necessarily applicable, but the "reasonable time" at least applies, and either way you weren't given enough notice. Since the trial is tomorrow he may have made a mistake by not serving you sooner ... but that is his mistake, and if he needs you to testify or produce documents, then he needs to give you enough notice.
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