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What Is a Federal Summons?

When an individual is ordered to appear before a federal court, he or she receives a federal summons. This legal document is issued by the court to call for an individual to appear before the court that issued it. There are several reasons as to why a person may receive federal summons. The most common reasons are to inform the individual that legal proceedings have begun against him or her and to call an individual to fulfill jury duty. Upon the receipt of a federal summons, the individual must respond.

An individual may respond by appearing before the court at the location and time listed on the federal summons. The summons also details the name of the litigant and legal counsel who are in opposition. The individual has the right to bring an attorney-at-law, however, this is not necessary if the individual is called for as a witness and not as a litigant. Another means of responding is through writing. A document can be written with the help of a lawyer to respond to the summons, such as providing a deposition rather than a testimony.

If a person fails to respond to a federal summons, he or she may be issued a bench warrant, in which case the court demands that the person summoned must appear before the court, or he or she may be ruled against in absentia. However, when a federal summons is issued wrongly, the person who is summoned may respond by clarifying with the court immediately.

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