Chapter 10 - Investigations
Chapter 10 - Investigations
A code of fair procedures for legislative investigating committees is established to provide for their operation in a manner which will enable them to execute properly the powers and duties vested in them, including the conduct of hearings in a fair and impartial manner, consistent with protection of the constitutional rights of persons involved in the proceedings and the preservation of the public good.
(a) “Investigating committee” means a committee created by law or resolution to inquire, research, or explore any matter on which the Legislature may act. All standing committees and their subcommittees are considered an investigating committee.
(b) “Hearing” means any meeting in the course of an investigatory proceeding (other than a preliminary conference or interview at which no testimony is taken under oath) conducted by an investigating committee for the purpose of taking or adducing testimony or receiving other evidence. A hearing may be open to the public or closed to the public.
(c) “Relevant” in reference to any form of information sought by an investigating committee means any information which tends to clarify or settle the establishment of any facts or matters under investigation or which may lead to further information which tends to clarify or settle such facts or matters.
(a) An investigating committee may be established by law or by resolution. It may exercise its powers during sessions of the Legislature, and also in the interim between sessions when so provided by law or by the resolution by which the committee was established or from which it derives its investigatory powers.
(b) The resolution or statute establishing an investigating committee shall state the committee’s purposes, powers, duties, duration, the subject matter and scope of its investigatory authority, and number of members.
Each investigating committee shall adopt rules, not inconsistent with law or any applicable rules of the Legislature, governing its procedures, including the conduct of hearings.
(a) Each investigating committee may employ for the duration of the investigation professional, technical, clerical, or other personnel as necessary for the proper performance of its duties. Funds shall be made available to it by the house or houses which passed the law or resolution establishing the committee subject to the restrictions and procedures relating to the investigating committee as may be provided by law or any applicable rules of the Legislature.
(b) Counsel for the investigating committee is fully authorized to represent it or its members in any legal action by or against the committee or member during the course of an investigation.
(a) An investigating committee shall consist of not less than 5 members.
(b) A quorum shall consist of a majority of the total authorized membership of the committee.
(c) No action may be taken by a committee at any meeting unless a quorum is present. Unless it is specified in this chapter or any other statute that action must be taken by a majority or greater vote of all of the members of the committee, action may be taken by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a meeting at which there is a quorum.
(a) An investigating committee may hold hearings as it considers appropriate for the performance of its duties, at such times and places as the committee determines.
(b) The committee shall provide by its rules that its members be given at least 2 days written notice of any hearing to be held when the Legislature is in session and at least 4 days’ written notice of any hearing to be held when the Legislature is not in session. The notices shall include a statement of the subject matter of the hearing. A hearing, and any
action there taken, shall not be considered invalid solely because notice was not given in accordance with this requirement.
(c) A hearing may not be conducted by an investigating committee unless a quorum is present.
(a) By majority vote of all its members, an investigating committee may issue subpoenas, including subpoenas duces tecum, requiring the appearance of persons, production of relevant records, and the giving of relevant testimony.
(c) An investigating committee is authorized to file any action in the High Court, which is directly related to the conduct and purpose of its investigation. Such action must be approved by a majority vote of all its members and be duly recorded in the minutes of a committee meeting.
(a) Service of a subpoena authorized by this chapter shall be made in the manner provided by law for the service of subpoenas in civil actions at least 7 days prior to the time fixed in the subpoena for appearance or production of records unless a shorter period of time is authorized by majority vote of all of the members of the committee in a particular instance when, in their opinion, the giving of 7 days’ notice is not practicable; but if a shorter period of time is authorized, the person to whom the subpoena is directed shall be given reasonable notice consistent with the particular circumstances involved.
(b) Any person who is served with a subpoena also shall be served with a copy of the resolution or statute establishing the committee, a copy of the rules under which the committee functions, a general statement informing him of the subject matter of the committee’s investigation or inquiry and, if personal appearance is required, a notice that he may be accompanied by counsel of his own choosing.
(a) All hearings of an investigating committee shall be public unless the committee, by majority vote of all its members, determines that a hearing should not be open to the public in a particular instance.
(b) The chairman of an investigating committee, if present and able to act, shall preside at all hearings of the committee and shall conduct the examination of witnesses or supervise examination by other members of the committee, committee counsel and members of the committee’s staff who have been authorized to examine witnesses. In the chairman’s absence or disability, the vice-chairman shall serve as presiding officer. The committee shall provide by its rules for the selection of a presiding officer to act in the absence or disability of both the chairman and the vice-chairman.
(c) No hearing, or part thereof, shall be televised, filmed or broadcast except upon approval of the committee by a majority vote of all of its members.
(d) Public television shall be made available to the committee when directed by the committee chairman after approval by majority vote of all committee members. Hearings shall then be televised live or taped as directed by the committee for later broadcast.
(a) Every witness at a hearing of an investigating committee may be accompanied by counsel of his own choosing. Counsel’s role is limited to advising the witness as to his rights; provided, that limitations may be prescribed by the committee to prevent obstruction of or interference with the orderly conduct of the hearing.
(b) Any witness at a hearing, or his counsel, may submit to the committee proposed questions to be asked of the witness or any other witness relevant to the matters upon which there have been questions or submission of evidence, and the committee shall ask such of the questions as it may deem appropriate to the subject matter of the hearing.
(a) An investigating committee shall cause a record to be made of all proceedings in which testimony or other evidence 15 received or adduced, which record shall include rulings of the chair, questions of the committee and its staff, the testimony or responses of witnesses, sworn written statements which the committee authorizes a witness to submit, and such other matters as the committee or its chairman may direct.
(b) All testimony given at a hearing shall be under oath or affirmation unless the requirement is dispensed with in a particular instance by majority vote of the committee members present at the hearing.
(c) Any member of an investigating committee may administer an oath or affirmation to a witness.
(d) The presiding officer at a hearing of an investigating committee may direct a witness to answer any relevant question or furnish any relevant book, paper, or other document. Unless the direction is overruled by majority vote of the committee members present, disobedience shall constitute grounds of citation for contempt, except that production of any book, paper, or other document may be required only by subpoena.
(e) A witness at a hearing, or his counsel, with the consent of a majority of the committee members present at the hearing, may file with the committee for incorporation into the record of the hearing sworn written statements relevant to the purpose, subject matter, and scope of the committee’s investigation or inquiry.
(f) A witness at a hearing, upon his advance request and at his own expense, shall be furnished a certified transcript of his testimony.
(g) Testimony and other evidence given or adduced at a hearing closed to the public may not be made public unless authorized by majority vote of all of the members of the committee, which authorization shall also specify the form and manner in which the testimony or other evidence may be released. Nothing herein may be construed to prevent a witness or other supplier of evidence from disclosing such of his own testimony or other evidence concerning which only he could claim a privilege against disclosure.
(a) Any person whose name is mentioned or who is otherwise identified during a hearing of an investigating committee and who, in the opinion of the committee, may be adversely affected thereby, may, upon his request or upon the request of any member of the committee, appear personally before the committee and testify in his own behalf, or,
with the committee’s consent, file a sworn written statement of facts or other documentary evidence for incorporation into the record of the hearing.
(b) Upon the consent of a majority of its members, an investigating committee may permit any other person to appear and testify at a hearing or submit a sworn written statement of facts or other documentary evidence for incorporation into the record thereof. No request to appear, appearance or submission of evidence shall limit in any way the investigating committee’s power of subpoena.
Every investigating committee shall produce an official report of its investigation. Unless otherwise required by resolution or law, such report shall be approved by a majority of the entire committee and shall be, without further approval of either house of the Legislature, considered the official report of the Legislature.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to limit or prohibit the acquisition of evidence or information by an investigating committee by any lawful means not provided for herein.
(a) A person shall be in contempt if he:
(1) fails or refuses to appear before the committee in compliance with a subpoena or, having appeared, fails or refuses to testify under oath or affirmation;
(2) fails or refuses to answer any relevant question or fails or refuses to furnish any relevant book, paper, or other document subpoenaed by or on behalf of an investigating committee;
(3) commits any other act or offense against an investigating committee which, if committed against the Legislature or either house thereof, would constitute a contempt.
(b) An investigating committee may, by majority vote of all of its members, apply for a contempt citation to the single House which created it or, in the case of a joint committee or a committee created by law, to both Houses. The application shall be considered as though the alleged contempt had been committed in or against the entire House or Houses of the Legislature itself. If the investigating committee is an interim committee, its application shall be made to the High Court.
(a) When a witness refuses to testify or provide requested information of any form or description, on the basis of the privilege against self incrimination, before an investigating committee of either or both houses of the Legislature the witness may be
compelled to testify or provide other information only upon the issuance of an order under this section.
(b) In the case of an individual who refuses to testify or provide information on the basis of the privilege against self-incrimination, an investigating committee may, upon request of a committee member, issue an order compelling such individuals to testify and provide information, such order becoming effective upon personal service on the witness at a hearing of the investigating committee.
(c) Before issuing such an order, the issuing body shall make findings that the request for such an order has been approved by a majority vote of all the members of the investigating committee requesting the order except that in the case of a committee of a whole House or both Houses, approval is required by a majority of all members present at a meeting called for the purpose of deciding on the request.
(d) Once an order is properly issued and served on a witness at a hearing, the witness may not refuse to testify or provide information on the basis of the privilege against self incrimination, but no testimony or other information compelled under the order, nor evidence derived from such testimony or information, may be used against the witness in any criminal case, except for prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order.
(a) A person quilty of contempt under the provisions of this chapter shall be sentenced as for a D felony.
(b) If an investigating committee fails in any material respect to comply with the requirements of this chapter, any person subject to a subpoena who is substantially prejudiced by such failure shall be relieved of any requirements of compliance. Such failure and prejudice shall be a complete defense in any proceeding against such person for contempt or other punishment.
(c) Either or both Houses may discipline a member or employee of the committee or Legislature and impose a penalty upon such member or employee who causes any unauthorized disclosure of testimony or evidence.