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Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 17: Summonses for Witnesses

(Applicable to District Court and Superior Court)

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(a) Summons.

(1) For Attendance of Witness; Form; Issuance. A summons shall be issued by the clerk or any person so authorized by the General Laws. It shall state the name of the court and the title, if any, of the proceeding and shall command each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony at the time and place specified therein.

(2) For Production of Documentary Evidence and of Objects. A summons may also command the person to whom it is directed to produce the books, papers, documents, or other objects designated therein. The court on motion may quash or modify the summons if compliance would be unreasonable or oppressive or if the summons is being used to subvert the provisions of rule 14. The court may direct that books, papers, documents, or objects designated in the summons be produced before the court within a reasonable time prior to the trial or prior to the time when they are to be offered in evidence and may upon their production permit the books, papers, documents, objects, or portions thereof to be inspected and copied by the parties and their attorneys if authorized by law.

(b) Defendants Unable to Pay. At any time upon the written ex parte application of a defendant which shows that the presence of a named witness is necessary to an adequate defense and that the defendant is unable to pay the fees of that witness, the court shall order the issuance of an indigent's summons. The witness so summoned shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (c) of this rule. If the court so orders, the costs incurred shall be assessed to the defendant in accordance with the General Laws or the provisions of these rules.

(c) Payment of Witnesses. Expenses incurred by a witness summoned on behalf of a defendant determined to be indigent under this rule as well as expenses incurred by a witness summoned on behalf of the Commonwealth, as such expenses are determined in accordance with the General Laws, shall be paid after the witness certifies in a writing filed with the court the amount of his travel and attendance.

(d) Service.

(1) By Whom; Manner. A summons may be served by any person authorized to serve a summons in a civil action or to serve criminal process. A summons shall be served upon a witness by delivering a copy to him personally, by leaving it at his dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or by mailing it to the witness' last known address.

(2) Place of Service.

(A) Within the Commonwealth. A summons requiring the attendance of a witness at a hearing or a trial may be served at any place within the Commonwealth.

(B) Outside the Commonwealth or Abroad. A summons directed to a witness outside the Commonwealth or abroad shall issue and be served in a manner consistent with the General Laws.

(3) Return. The person serving a summons pursuant to this rule shall make a return of service to the court.

(e) Failure to Appear. If a person served with a summons pursuant to this rule fails to appear at the time and place specified therein and the court determines that such person did receive actual notice to appear, a warrant may issue to bring that person before the court.