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Subpoena is a legal term that has been in use since the 1400s. We will examine the meaning of the word subpoena, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A subpoena is a writ that demands that a person appear in court in order to give testimony, or demands that a person produce certain documents. A subpoena is issued by government, usually a court of law. A subpoena ad testificandum requires the recipient to testify in court. A subpoena duces tecum requires the recipient to produce tangible evidence for the court, usually documents, but it may also cover DNA samples. Subpoena may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are subpoenas, subpoenaed, subpoenaing. The word subpoena is derived from the Latin phrase sub poena, which literally means under penalty. The idea is that the subject must appear before a body in order to testify, and failure to comply would result in a penalty. The b in subpoena is not pronounced.


The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mr. Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that encompasses Mr. Trump’s business ventures. (The New York Times)

The subpoena, which the city confirmed Monday, orders Angelo Paparella, president of Calabasas-based petition circulation firm PCI Consultants Inc., to produce documents related to the recall signature gathering as the city conducts a probe parallel with a criminal investigation by the Orange County district attorney’s office. (The Los Angeles Times)

Mesa police say records have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department in a civil rights investigation involving a former police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting an unarmed man. (U.S. News & World Report)