A court order to appear at a legal interview is called a deposition subpoena. A deposition is a formal name for an interview in which a prosecutor, plaintiff's attorney, or defense attorney talks to a witness in the case. It occurs before a trial to allow the attorneys to gather evidence they will use to prove elements of their client's cases in court. If a person will not attend a deposition willingly, he may be subpoenaed or requested by the court to do so.
Depositions are important in the legal process because they help attorneys determine how to make their cases. If, for example, a defendant wishes to claim he has an alibi, the alibi must testify in court. The attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant may wish to talk to the alibi before the actual day of the trial so they will know what he is going to say and be able to prepare to ask the right questions and plan their case around his statement. The plaintiff, for example, may want to know that the alibi is going to say that he and the accused went to the movies, so the plaintiff can then try to prove that the alibi is lying, perhaps by showing that the movie theater was closed at that time of night.
There is sufficient importance attached to depositions that a person who is interviewed in one must be sworn in and is under oath. Lying in a deposition can subject a person to perjury charges. As such, if a person does not wish to come to a deposition and he is going to be called as a witness in court, a deposition subpoena may be appropriate.
To obtain a subpoena, the plaintiff, prosecutor, or defense attorney must go to the judge in charge of the case and explain that he wishes to depose the particular witness. He may have to tell the judge why he believes the deposition is important or what he is hoping to obtain from the deposition. The judge will then consider whether it is fair and in the best interest of justice to command that the witness receive a deposition subpoena. If the judge decides to issue one, the subpoena will be served on the person requested to come to the deposition. That person will then have to comply with the court's order in the subpoena and attend the deposition or he can be subject to contempt of court and fined or jailed.