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Bill would give defense attorneys subpoena powers

A new legislative proposal would give criminal defense attorneys the same power to issue subpoenas provided under current law for civil lawyers.

Several state representatives — along with Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee — introduced Assembly Bill 84 last week and it has since been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Ethics.

Current law allows a variety of legal professionals — including judges, court commissioners, arbitrators, district attorneys, coroners and medical examiners — to issue subpoenas to require witnesses to testify at a proceeding, hearing, examination, or trial.

Civil attorneys also have this ability for depositions, hearings, or trials, but current law does not explicitly authorize attorneys representing criminal defendants to issue subpoenas.

The proposed legislation would specifically give attorneys representing criminal defendants the same power to issue subpoenas provided under current law to attorneys in civil actions.

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