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In law, a writ commanding the person upon whom it has been served to appear in court or before a congressional committee, grand jury, or some other body, under a penalty for failure to comply. Unlike a summons, a subpoena may command the recipient to produce evidence necessary to the resolution of a legal matter or controversy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on subpoena, visit Britannica.com.