This month, as I prepared a case for trial, I ran through my checklist of things to do which included: lodge exhibits, write trial brief, and serve subpoenas. One of the key witnesses who would help prove my client’s position was a woman whooperated her own accountant agency. Within minutes of being served with the Subpoena for Personal Appearance at Trial, I received a frantic phone call from her.
She emphatically proclaimed she did not want to be a witness. I said I understood, then calmly explained she didn’t have a choice. Our legal system permits litigants to call anyone as a witness who may help their case.
Next, she demanded to know how she can be forced to appear absent a court order. I explained that the subpoena is a court order requiring a witness to appear at the start of trial and appear each day until she testifies. I humbly informed her that as an attorney I have the ability to issue a subpoena to just about anyone, which carries with it the same power of a court order.
I could hear the panic in her voice as she outlined her concerns about leaving her business for even one day. As an owner of a law firm, I completely understood her position. Small businesses need their owners and often can’t operate without them.
I needed to call her as a witness, but to show that I respected her time, if she would agree to sign an “on call” agreement where she would arrive in court within an hour of a call from me, then I wouldn’t require that she sit through each day of trial as required under the subpoena.
My interest in this witness was to advance my client’s case, not disturb her business