Dear Atty. Claire:
I am an OFW, and currently working in Middle East.
I just want to clear something about a subpoena because this is the first I have seen one.
1.) Can anyone serve a subpoena?
2.) The subpoena doesn’t have a signature of the judge only name but initial of someone who prepared it (i.e administrative officer).
3.) Can I sue them for this? What will be the case?
4.) Is it advisable to send the copy of the subpoena to the lawyer/judge whose name was written there?
Appreciate your understanding and feedback on the above.
Thank you very much.
The first thing that you should do is to request your authorized representative to go to court from where the subpoena was issued and ask its validity.
An order issued by the court may bear the rubber stamp impression ‘original signed’ appearing above the name of the judge with the initial of the branch clerk of court to show its validity.
Summons in civil cases should be served by the process server or sheriff thru personal or substituted service or thru publication, but the subpoena in criminal cases may be mailed or served personally by the Office of the City Prosecutor to the respondent in his last known address if there is a scheduled preliminary investigation. In criminal cases, the court will have jurisdiction over the person of the accused upon the latter’s arraignment unlike in civil cases wherein the jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is acquired once there is a valid service of summons.
The subpeona ad testificandum and duces tecum and notice of hearings may also be served thru mail or personal service.
The process server or court sheriff is the proper person to personally serve the summons or subpoena to the person concerned or if for justifiable causes, the defendant cannot be served within a reasonable time, service may be effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant’s office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof (Rules 14 and of the Rules of Court of the Philippines).
Regarding your question no.3, you can file criminal charges like falsification of public document or unjust vexation against those persons who delivered the subpoena if you can prove that it is fake and it was served purposely just to harass or annoy you.
Nevertheless, you do not have to send back the subpoena to the court. All you have to do, once proven that the subpoena is legal and valid, is to file the counter affidavit or answer thereto or to appear at the scheduled hearing or do whatever is ordered to you by the court (or by the prosecutor if it was issued by the Office of the City Prosecutor).