If Evidence You Need is Held by the Other Side

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In California, if you want an opposing party to take evidence to the hearing that he or she has in their possession you can write a letter to them with this request and file this letter in court.  In legal terms, such a letter is called a “Notice in Lieu of Subpoena.”  There is no form for this request.

NOTE:  In small claims court, you cannot use a Subpoena (Form SC-107) to ask the other side to bring evidence to the hearing. This is because subpoenas are only for people who are not a plaintiff or defendant in the case, such as witnesses or record keepers.

For a “Notice in Lieu of Subpoena”

Step 1. Write a letter to the person or business that has the evidence you need. 

  • Title the letter “Notice in Lieu of Subpoena.” 
  • Ask the other side to take the specific documents (or other evidence) that you need to prove your case to the court hearing. 
  • Make 2 copies of the letter. Make one copy for your files and one copy for the court.

Step 2. Serve Opens new window the letter to the other side who has the documents or items.  This service may be done by you, or by another adult. 

  • If the letter is mailed, it must be mailed at least 25 days before the hearing date. 
  • If the letter is delivered in person, it must be personally served at least 20 days before the hearing date.

Step 3. Inform the court that the letter was provided to the other side.

  • Get a copy of the Proof of Service
    (If by mail, use Form POS-030Opens new window If in person, use Form POS-020). Opens new window
  • Fill out the form. Have the person who served the letter (either you or another adult) sign the form.
  • Make a copy of the Proof of Service (Form POS-030 or POS 020) for your file.


Step 4. File Opens new window a copy of the letter and the completed Form POS-030 or POS 020 with the court.

NOTE:  If the other side objects (in writing), the court may have a separate hearing before the trial to decide whether or not the other side has to bring the documents or items you requested on the day of the trial.  Or, the court may decide without scheduling a separate hearing. The court will let you know its decision in writing.





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