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Called as a Witness? Get Your Witness Fees

Witness Fees for Deposition

Have you ever been called to testify as a witness at a deposition (a “deposition” is a fancy way of saying a lawyer-conducted witness interview conducted under oath that is recorded by a court reporter) or at a trial? If so, then you have the right to recover “ordinary witness fees”. According to California Government Code § 68093:

Except as otherwise provided by law, witness’ fees for each day’s actual attendance, when legally required to attend a civil action or proceeding in the superior courts, are thirty-five dollars ($35) a day and mileage actually traveled, both ways, twenty cents ($0.20) a mile.

So for example, if you have been subpoenaed to testify at a deposition and you live 5 miles from the place where you are to be deposed, you would be entitled to a witness fee of $35 plus 20 cents per mile for the 10-mile round trip. That equals $37.

If you are called to testify in a federal lawsuit, then the witness fee is higher. Under 28 USC § 1821, you are entitled to a witness fee of $40 per day of attendance plus travel costs. If you travel by “common carrier”, such as by bus or train, then “travel costs” means your actual travel costs. If you travel by “privately owned vehicle”, then “travel costs” means a per mile rate established by the Administrator of General Services, which is generally the standard mileage rates set by the IRS. For example, in 2017, the IRS standard mileage rate is 53.5 cents per mile.

Using the same example as above, you would be entitled to a witness fee of $40 plus 53.5 cents per mile for the 10-mile round trip. That equals $45.35.

If you have further questions regarding testifying as a witness, feel free to discuss it with a lawyer.

7 Comments

  1. Chris on October 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Hello, I was subpoenaed and appeared in court and will have to reappear in 3 months (ongoing case). I am trying to get reimbursement for miles, parking and witness fees. The contact person and number on the subpoena to request reimbursement is no longer valid. How do I go about getting reimbursed? Thank you.

    • Eugene Lee on October 19, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Unfortunately, I think you need to keep trying to contact the person who issued the subpoena. It will usually be a lawyer. If you have their name and/or bar number, you can go to http://www.CalBar.org and click on attorney search, and hopefully get their current contact info there.

  2. Dacy Rutter on June 5, 2017 at 10:53 am

    What about if it was 1980?

    • Eugene Lee on June 5, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Not sure I understand your question. Can you be more specific?

  3. Peter Marsh on December 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    What about parking costs?. the court houses in my wars only have parking you have to pay for.

    • Mike on October 7, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Yes, what about parking costs? In San Diego there are meters for 2 hrs max! I got a $100 ticket for exceeding that the last time I was in court. I have been subpeona’d as a witness, and I will use a Pay Parking Lot for my appearance. How do I get that cost payed for?

  4. Peter Marsh on October 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    What about parking costs?. the court houses in my wars only have parking you have to pay for.

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