When you receive a subpoena to appear in court


Read your subpoena carefully. It will tell you when and where to appear. It may also tell you that you must bring documents or other items with you to court.

Contact the prosecutor (whose name and number should be on the subpoena or an accompanying letter) to confirm that you received the subpoena. The attorney working on your case will want to talk to you about court procedure and review your testimony with you, and will want to get a telephone number where you can be reached in case the court date is changed or canceled at the last minute.


Review any statements you made. If you do not have a copy of your statement, the prosecutor does. If there are any mistakes in your statement, tell the prosecutor. If there were photographs taken or items of physical evidence, such as tape recordings, make sure the prosecutor knows about them.

Don’t memorize what you are going to say. Instead, try to imagine yourself back on the day the incident occurred and think about the things that you will be asked about, and things you might have to describe, including any conversation you might have heard.

You do not have to discuss this case with anyone. If you are contacted about your testimony, you can decide if you want to discuss it or not. If others threaten you because you are a witness or try to make your change your testimony, report it by calling 911 immediately. Tampering with a witness is a crime.

Contact the prosecutor the day before your appearance and verify that your attendance is necessary. Cases are often postponed or settled just before trial.


Your only job is to tell the facts truthfully and accurately. The judge will decide the law and the jury will decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

Wear neat and conservative clothing.

Listen carefully to the questions. If you do not understand or cannot hear a question, ask to have it repeated.

If an attorney objects to a question, do not answer until the judge tells you to or until a new question is asked.

If you are asked to answer “yes” or “no” but need to explain, tell the attorney that your would like to explain your answer.

Answer only the question asked. Do not volunteer information.

Tell the facts as you remember them. If you do not recall certain facts, say so.

Do not give personal opinions or conclusions unless asked to do so. If you must estimate distances, measurements, or times, clearly state that you are estimating.

Speak your answers out loud rather than nodding or shaking your head. Speak loudly and clearly so that you may be heard by everyone in the courtroom.

Be polite. Stay calm. Try not to argue with any attorney or judge.


If you were served with a subpoena, fill out the back of the subpoena in the section indicated for state’s witnesses, sign your name and write in your social security number (there is no special place for it).

Have the prosecutor sign the subpoena. Turn it in (in person or by mail) to the Nobles County Court Administrator’s Office or ask the prosecutor to file it for you.