Frequently Asked Questions about Subpoenas for Civil Service Commission hearings

This information should not be construed as legal advice, but, rather, a practical guide for individuals, including those not represented by attorneys , regarding the issuance and serving of subpoenas authorized by the Commission.

  1. Who can request a subpoena from the Civil Service Commission (Commission) that requires a person to attend a Commission hearing or provide documents?

Only parties to a pending appeal can request a subpoena from the Commission.

  1. When would I need to request a subpoena?

You may need a subpoena if the testimony of someone is required and that person will not voluntarily attend the Commission hearing.  You may also need a subpoena to request documents relevant to the appeal.

  1. Do I need authorization from the Commission before issuing a subpoena?

Yes.  Pursuant to a Commission rule adopted by the Commission on October 11, 2001, parties must request the authority to issue subpoenas at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled hearing.  (The Commission reserves the right to waive this ten-day requirement for good cause.)

  1. How do I request authorization to issue a subpoena?

You need to file a written request with the Commission identifying the individual or documents sought and describe the relevance of the person’s testimony or the documents to the proceedings.  You should complete the subpoena template on the Commission’s website for each subpoena requested and attach that form to your request.  Requests may be sent via email to the Commission's Office Manager, Medes Diaz via:  a)  email at; b) fax at (617) 727-7590; or c) mail at Civil Service Commission; One Ashburton Place; Room 503, Boston, MA 02108. (You must also send a copy of your request to the other party.)

  1. Can the other party oppose my request for a subpoena(s)?

Yes.  Commission rules allow the other party to submit objections within seven days of your request.  The Commission reserves the right, however, to further limit the time for objections to ensure time for prompt service of the requested subpoenas.

  1. How will I know if the Commission has approved my request(s)?

A member of the Commission will promptly review your request for subpoena(s) and any objections received, and notify you via mail, fax, or email that the request has been approved, modified or denied.

  1. Does the Commission serve the subpoena(s)?

No.  The party that requested the subpoena is responsible for having the subpoena served.

  1. How do I go about having a subpoena served on the witness?

You must find a “disinterested person” who is:  a)  not a party or witness regarding the appeal pending before the Commission; b) not related to the person you are serving; and c) is over 18 years of age. You can use a deputy sheriff or constable to serve the subpoena for a fee.

  1. Do I have to pay the witness a fee?

In Massachusetts, there is currently a $6.00 witness fee that will need to be paid to the witness at the time of service as well as ten cents per mile from the witness' home to the Commission and back.

  1. How does the deputy sheriff, constable or other disinterested person serve the subpoena?

The person serving the approved subpoena must hand deliver the original subpoena to the witness or leave it at the home of the witness.  If the subpoena is delivered to the witness in hand, the person serving the subpoena must tell the person being served that he/she is being given a subpoena; and give that person an original copy of the subpoena; and give the person the witness fee.

The person who served the subpoena should complete the return of service section of the subpoena (page 2) and return that affidavit along with a copy of Page 1 of the subpoena to you prior to the date of the hearing before the Commission.  You should bring this information with you to the hearing as proof that the subpoena was served.

  1. Can the witness refuse to appear?

Any witness who objects to the issuance of the subpoena may ask the Commission to cancel or modify the subpoena prior to the hearing date.  If this happens, you will be given an opportunity to reply to this request.

  1. What if the witness fails to appear at the hearing after being served the subpoena?

If the Commission has not canceled the subpoena, you may ask the Superior Court to enforce it and require the attendance of the witness.



This information provided by the Civil Service Commission.