United States District Court - Northern District Court of California

Claudia Wilken, Chief Judge

Richard W. Wieking, Clerk of Court

Arranging Service of Subpoenas

The U.S. Marshal Service is responsible for service of and costs associated with fact witness subpoenas. CJA funds are not available for service. However, if your investigator is interviewing the witness and serves the subpoena at the same time, that is acceptable. Do not hire a process server.

Appointed counsel need to apply directly to the court (not through the CJA Unit) for an order authorizing service of subpoena and payment of other costs related to the testimony of a fact witness. Once judicial approval is obtained, appointed counsel need to coordinate service directly with the appropriate branch (San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose) of the U.S. Marshal’s Office. A sample order for submission to the court is provided here.

To arrange for service of subpoena by USMS at government expense, appointed counsel must: 

  1. Draft a court order (in compliance with the terms of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 17 (b)) listing the names of the witnesses to be subpoenaed and their addresses. The order should include authorization for other expenses, such as transportation and deposition costs, as appropriate. If the witness requires travel funds advanced, the order must specifically authorize the advance. 
  2. The order should be accompanied by the completed subpoenas ready for issuance by the court.
  3. The Court will return a conformed copy of the certified order signed by the Judge authorizing issuance and service of the subpoena(s), and payment of the costs and fees by the government.
  4. A copy of the certified order allowing for witnesses to testify at government expense will be sent by the court to the U.S. Marshal’s office and the subpoenas will then be served. 

The U.S. Marshal’s office should have at least 10 working days for service.