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(suh-pea-nah) n. an order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness (if a "subpena duces tecum"). A subpena is used to obtain testimony from a witness at both depositions (testimony under oath taken outside of court) and at trial. The procedure to get a subpena issued is basically to apply to the court with a brief written declaration of the need for the testimony or documents. Such subpenas are usually issued automatically by the court clerk, but must be served personally on the party being summoned. Failure to appear as required by the subpena can be punished as contempt of court if it appears the absence was intentional or without cause. (See: subpena duces tecum, subpoena, witness, deposition, contempt of court)