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Want a witness to show up at court? You better pay them.

Last year, Mississippi Code Annotated §25-7-47 was amended to set out fees for non-party witnesses under a subpoena. Rule 45 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure requires payment of a witness fee at the time of service of a subpoena to a witness to testify at court or a deposition.

Prior to this amendment, the fee was $1.50 per day and $0.05 per mile. As long as a check for $5.00 was attached, you were set to have your witness there. The new rules are a little more complicated, so here is a breakdown:

  1. Contact the county in which the subpoena is to be issued. The amount is now set by the Board of Supervisors in that county and is the same amount they pay a juror for one day of testimony. (This will vary from county to county but is no less than $25.00 and no greater that $40.00)
  2. The mileage – Mississippi Code Annotated §25-3-41 sets out the mileage rates. The easiest way is to ask the Board of Supervisors for that county what their mileage rate is. If not, the statute provides the reimbursement rate not to exceed the federal rate allowed for federal employees (as of 2015, the site lists as 57.5 cents per mile.)

So why is this important? A witness under subpoena who is not properly served with a witness fee has no duty or obligation to honor that subpoena. A subpoena without a witness fee has not been properly served.

So if you want your witnesses properly served and appearing in court, you better pay them.