Grr! I got served... only not... (ideas?)

[disclaimer] I am not asking for specific legal advice here. I already have figured I’d talk to the judge. No legal advice asked for, nosiree![/disclaimer]

A year ago, I quit my job as a teller. Today I get a voicemail from my former manager, saying that I’ve been subpoenaed to show up in court for a check forgery case. I’m apparently a witness, as I cashed the check (no trouble for me or anything).

Thing is, they sent the subpoena to my old place of work, not to where I live (even though my address is typed out, plain as day, on the damn paper)! They sent it over there last week and she only called me today (the court date is on Thursday). A clerk signed the subpoena, not a judge. I figure I can find some judge to ask, “what the hey?” to, but isn’t that bullshit? Don’t they have to actually serve it to me? What if my old boss forgot to call me in time and then I’d be in contempt of court for a subpoena I never knew about?
Ugh, this whole situation makes me so mad. :mad: I haven’t worked there in a year, the guy has a super generic name and I have no recollection whatsover. The shitty part? I have to take personal time off of my new (“new”, since I’ve been here a year) job to go to this damn court date. :mad:

Sounds like they were really lazy, and relied on the rules of “substituted service” rather than effecting proper service to you personally. Especially amazing is that they apparently had your correct address.

It looks like it is court clerks that sign and issue subpoenas in Michigan.

About all I can offer is to call the court clerk, eplain how you have not been served properly, and in a timely fashion, and that you only heard about the case because a former co-worker called you about it. On such short notice, unfortunately, you may need to show up at the courthouse and speak with the judge.

(Of course, I’m not your lawyer. I’m not any kind of lawyer, actually, but I have some experience in service of papers.)

eta: Forgot to say that an intro to the rules of court regarding service of documents for Michigan can be found at

Most jurisdictions allow service by mail nowadays to save on costs, delivery confirmation is all they need to show proof of service. Judges do not sign subpoenas, clerks do, in fact, in some jurisdictions, like NM, attorneys can issue subpoenas with nary a court clerk around.

You wouldn’t be in contempt of court for failing to appear (had your boss not called you), because while they effected service upon your old place of business. They would have just re-served you if you didn’t show up. However, because you are in contact with your old boss and have knowledge of the subpoena, I’d not want to take any chance. This being a criminal matter you would be going up against the state, so I’m not sure that it’s worth all that effort to fight.

And yeah, it sucks. Here’s hoping you have a firm appearance time and trial time so you don’t have to sit there all day through 150 other ‘day’ trials while the judge tries to clear his/her calendar.

Call the D.A.'s Office and see if they have an investigator or Victim/Witness Assistant. In the cases I prosecute, I will try to arrange the court schedule as much as possible to minimize inconveniences to witnesses. And if you are cooperative with the prosecutor, you may even be placed on stand-by, where they will call you an hour ahead of time (or some other set period) so you don’t have to sit there all day.

Wargamer (Prosecuting criminals since 1990)

Apparent improper service* seems easily corrected in this situation by simply making proper service. So, even if they didn’t “getcha ya” on one subpoena, they will likely try again and “getcha ya” the next time around, unless you head for the border or something.

So, unless you want to go through a headache simply to delay the inevitable by making them jump through all the hoops, you might consider waiving any argument of improper service and just show up… unless you have something to hide :dubious:
*I am not opining as to whether this service is proper in this case. Check you local laws.

Where the heck did I say I wouldn’t show up? I’m not a moron or anything, geez.

Of course I’ll show up. I had the subpoena faxed to me so I could actually HAVE it instead of just going on the word of a former manager.

I called the clerk who signed the subpoena and she says she goes by the address that’s given for you on the police report (even though my home address is on the subpoena… :dubious: ) which was the credit union. Okay, fine. Still makes me wonder why the credit union didn’t say, “Oh, she doesn’t work here anymore.” Why did they keep my subpoena and then sit on it for a week before calling me?


I’d blow it off.

Call the prosecutor who is handling the case before the court date. They may put you on call, so you don’t necessarily have to take the day off. Also, they may be interested in knowing that you don’t remember anything and no longer work there. If your testimony won’t be useful to their case, they may decide that they don’t need you as a witness at all.

Yeah, I did exactly that. I think I have a chance at not having to go, because she apparently didn’t even know I no longer work there. I said I never received the subpoena, she asked why, and I said, “because I haven’t worked there in a year.” I went on to say that I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t remember anything about the case since nothing rings a bell.

She asked if I KNEW I didn’t know anything or didn’t THINK I knew anything. I know she has to make sure, but sheesh. I haven’t worked there in a year, this guy has a name as generic as Bob Roberts and is probably “5’9 average white guy with brown eyes and brown hair who looks like 209850923 people you see in a day”. So I said I was 99% sure I wouldn’t remember or recognize him. She said she’d let me know tomorrow if I had to show up (after she reviews the case).

So we’ll see how it goes. I also love that I first called my old job to ask them to fax my subpoena to me and not only did they not do that but I never even got another call back about it. :rolleyes: Good thing I figured I wouldn’t wait for them and got it faxed over from the clerk instead.

You didn’t say you wouldn’t show up and I never meant to suggest you’re a moron. Your thread title asked for ideas, generally, and I gave you my idea. I didn’t think it unreasonable to imply that someone in your situation might debate whether to show up based upon improper service.

If they didn’t hand you anything and you didn’t acknowledge to anyone official you are aware of it, I’d ignore it as well.