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A subpoena, originating from the Latin phrase sub poena meaning “under penalty”, is a written command to a person to either testify before a court or be subject to some form of punishment. Subpoenas are generally associated with common law legal systems. Such documents are usually served on individuals who will be witnesses in an upcoming trial or proceeding. The subpoena usually sets forth the specific location, scheduled date and time the witness is requested to appear. It should be noted that in some countries, including England and Wales, subpoenas are often referred to a “witness summons”.

“All employees with knowledge relevant to the case were served with a subpoena to appear in front of a grand jury.”