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You open the door. You're handed a subpoena to appear at trial...Except it's your own trial! You've just been served with a document that compels you to appear as a witness at your own trial. What do you do?

Your medical malpractice trial is approaching. Your attorney is preparing your case to get it ready for trial. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing your medical malpractice lawsuit in New York.

One of the things your attorney does is prepare subpoenas to serve on various doctors and hospitals in order to get your medical records into court.

This is necessary so that your records can be admitted into evidence. Otherwise, your lawyer will have to bring in a witness from each of the doctor's offices to confirm that those records are kept in the ordinary course of business and that they are accurate and complete.

What you do not realize is that the defense lawyers go through the same exact process to prepare your case for trial. They also seek to have those same records subpoenaed and brought to court so they too can use them as evidence.

However, many times an attorney will use a subpoena to compel a witness to come in and testify during the course of trial.

It is possible that if the defense lawyer does not believe you will be coming into court to testify on your own behalf, he can and is fully within his right to serve you with a subpoena to compel you to come in and testify at the appropriate time. It's kind of shocking when you receive a subpoena from the defense lawyer commanding you to appear at trial in your own lawsuit.

This does not happen often but it can and should not surprise you.

A subpoena is a document that is supposed to compel you to either appear at trial or compel you to deliver documents to court.

Did you know that an attorney who uses a subpoena for pretrial documents or to compel a witness to appear for a pretrial question and answer session, known as a deposition, can get into trouble with the court for abusing the legal process and subpoena powers? It's true.


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer