The Clerk of Court issues a subpoena after a pro se litigant or attorney fills out the appropriate forms and has the Order for Issuance of Subpoena signed by a judge or court commissioner, according to WashingtonLawHelp.org. The witness receives a copy, and the court files the original subpoena.
Subpoena is a Latin word that means "under penalty." A person files a subpoena if he needs a witness to testify in court, and he files a subpoena duces tecum if he needs a witness to bring documents with him to court, regardless of whether the witness testifies, explains WashingtonLawHelp.org. Someone over the age of 18 must serve the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum to the witness before the trial.