Directions for Obtaining and Serving a Subpoena

What is a "subpoena"?

A subpoena is an order from a judge to appear at a hearing. If you want someone to testify for you at your hearing, and you are concerned about whether the person will come, you should ask the judge for a subpoena. If you get a subpoena and deliver it properly, the judge will require the person to appear.

A subpoena duces tecum is a special type of subpoena. It requires a person to bring certain documents, like business records, bank records, medical records or government records, to a hearing. These are just examples; you may subpoena any type of document that is relevant to your case. If you want someone to bring documents to your hearing, you should ask the judge for a subpoena duces tecum. If you get a subpoena duces tecum and deliver it properly, the judge will require the documents to be produced.

How do I request a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum?

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) has a form you may fill out that specifies exactly the information you must provide in order to get the subpoena issued. You may obtain the form by calling the Office at 651-361-7900. The form is also available on the Internet. Download a copy of the form.

You are not required to use the form. You may obtain the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum by mailing, delivering or faxing a written request to OAH. Your request must include the following information:

  • The name of the case, the OAH docket number, and the name of the judge; 
  • Your name, address, telephone number and fax number, if you have one; 
  • The full name and address of each person to be subpoenaed; 
  • The date, time and place of the hearing, (or the time the person will testify) if you know it; and 
  • A brief statement describing the relevance of the testimony or documents that you want.

If you are requesting documents, you must describe the documents you want with sufficient detail that a person receiving the subpoena duces tecum will know what to provide. If you can be clear about who or what is the subject of the documents, the approximate date or date range, and the likely location of the records, this will assure that you get the documents you need.

Send or deliver your written request for a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to the judge assigned to your case at the Office of Administrative Hearings, PO Box 64620, St. Paul, MN 55164-0620. Or you may fax your request to (651) 539-0310. Send a copy of your request for a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to each of the other parties participating in your case.

What does it cost to get a subpoena?

OAH charges $5.00 for each subpoena. You may submit a check payable to the Office of Administrative Hearings with your request. If you do not, you will be billed for the subpoenas issued for you.

How do I serve the subpoena?

If the administrative law judge approves the subpoena request, the subpoena will be prepared and sent to you. Once you receive the signed subpoena or subpoena duces tecum from the judge, you must "serve" it on the proper person. This is a formal method of delivering the subpoena, and it must be done properly to assure that the judge can require the person to attend the hearing.

  • An adult who is not a party to the case must deliver the subpoena and the required fee to the person or the home of the person you want to subpoena. The subpoena and fee may be left with any responsible adult at the home address.
  • You may pay the sheriff or deputy sheriff to deliver the subpoena for you. There are also private companies that offer this service.
  • You must pay a “witness fee” of $20.00 for the first day of the hearing, plus 28 cents for each mile from the person’s home to the hearing and back. The adult who serves the subpoena should also give the person the witness fee. 
  • The adult who serves the subpoena for you must give you a written statement of exactly when and where the subpoena was served, and to whom the subpoena and fee were handed. You will need to give this written statement to the judge to show that the subpoena was properly delivered. See the sample Certificate of Personal Service.

Is there an easier way?

Often a person you want to testify will agree to attend the hearing without a subpoena. Sometimes a witness will want the subpoena to show to an employer or other person to explain why the person was at the hearing. In that situation, you may give the subpoena and fee to the person at the hearing. However, if you do not serve the subpoena in advance and the person does not come to the hearing, the subpoena cannot be enforced, and you will be required to proceed without the benefit of the testimony or documents that the person was going to provide.


If you have questions about subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum, check the OAH rules, especially Minn. R. 1400.7000, or call 651-361-7900 and ask to speak to a staff attorney.

Download the SUBPOENA REQUEST FORM (Word doc)