If a witness refuses to talk to a district attorney, the law gives prosecutors a way to compel these witnesses to show up through the issuance of a subpoena. However, before the judge can issue a subpoena, the prosecutors must first present a convincing argument that the witness’s testimony is essential to the administration of justice.
The takeaway here is that a subpoena can’t be issued to a witness without the judge’s approval. However, in New Orleans, the District Attorney’s Office reportedly maintained a practice of issuing ‘fake subpoenas’ to get witnesses to come forth.
The story behind the fake subpoenas
A recent report by The Lens, a New Orleans nonprofit news service, claimed that the DA’s office had been issuing notices to witnesses labeled ‘subpoena,’ which contained language that explicitly threatened witnesses with possible arrest in an effort to pressure them to cooperate. Read more from this blog. http://bit.ly/2ryxmMt