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Tina, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
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What is the typical penalty for not showing up s a witness

Customer Question

What is the typical penalty for not showing up s a witness in a civil case?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.

Hello and welcome.

I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service. First, I have some questions for you so I can determine what information to provide you.

Has the witness been subpoenaed to testify or have they simply agreed with one of the parties to appear as a witness?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This situation has been ongoing for four years. I was subpoenaed. The last two letters: stated the following:the case is set for Feb. 25th then a letter stating the court had an older case & the Feb. 25th date no longer held. I am away. I have a plumbing problem which prevents me from being home. My neighbor say I received a letter & certified pink slip. I am not there. She says the letter says I am to appear this Tuesday or Wednesday (2-3 days notice) All this comes from the other side. Don't know what happened to the "reasonable: side I was working with. I was stalked by the plaintiff and am in fear for my well being. I have not signed the mail certificate or been severed personally-this time around.

Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.
I see. Thank you for the additional information, Linda.

Is this a case pending in a NJ state court or a federal court located in NJ?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Superior Court of New Jersey

Law Division

Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.

Hello again, Linda.

A court may hold an individual in contempt of court and even issue a warrant for their arrest where they fails to comply with a subpoena, and that is usually what will happen if a subpoena is simply ignored.

However, the NJ rules of procedure normally require that a subpoena be personally served on the recipient, so it appears you have not been properly served as required by the following Rule:

(e) Personal Service. A subpoena may be served at any place within the State of New Jersey by any person 18 or more years of age. Service of a subpoena shall be made by personally delivering a copy to the person named, together with the fee allowed by law, except that if the person is a witness in an action for the State or an indigent defendant, the fee shall be paid before leaving the court at the conclusion of the trial by the municipal court administrator as otherwise required by N.J.S.A. 22A:1-4. After service of a subpoena, the person serving the subpoena shall promptly file a copy of the subpoena and proof of service with the court.

Here is a link to the NJ Rules of Civil Procedure for your reference (Rule 7:7-8 governs subpoenas):

Since personal service has not occurred, a court would not typically find holding the recipient in contempt appropriate, but order that the individual be personally served with the subpoena.

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I was served in the past but this situation has been ongoing for four years, I don't even remember when it was but I don't believe it was within the past year.

Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.
I see. Thank you for the additional information, Linda.

Once a party is properly served with a subpoena, they typically do have a continuing legal obligation to appear when ordered until released by the court. Because of that, it would normally be best not to ignore the subpoena, but file a motion to quash it if you have grounds to do so.

Pursuant to Rule 7:7-8 (h) Motion to Quash. The court, on motion made prior to the scheduled court date, may quash or modify a subpoena to testify or a subpoena to produce writings or electronically stored information if compliance would be unreasonable, oppressive or not in compliance with the procedures required under this rule.

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