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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 15: Summons for witness to attend and testify

Section 15. Whenever the inspector general has reason to believe that a person has information with respect to any matter which is within the inspector general's jurisdiction to investigate, he may require by summons the attendance and testimony under oath of said person; provided, however, that such summons may be issued by the inspector general only with prior approval of six members of the inspector general council. The approval of six members of the inspector general council for the issuance of a summons pursuant to this paragraph shall be obtained only after information concerning the matter under investigation has been presented to said council, which information shall include: the name and address of the prospective witness; the subject of the investigation; a summary of the status of the investigation; a summary of the reasons for requesting a summons for testimony; and a summary of the general scope of the inquiry to be made of a prospective witness.

Such summons shall be served by the inspector general or anyone duly authorized by him, in the same manner as a summons for a witness in a civil case issued on behalf of the commonwealth, and all provisions of law relative to such summons issued in such case shall apply to a summons issued under this section.

A witness required by summons to attend and testify under oath and produce books and records shall be given not less than forty-eight hours' notice of the time and place of the taking of testimony, unless such notice shall unduly interfere with the conduct of the investigation and prior approval for a shorter period of time for such summons and notice has been obtained from at least six members of the inspector general council.

Such witness, at the time of service of said summons, shall be notified of the matter under investigation concerning which such witness will be required to testify and shall be given a copy of the rules of procedures adopted by the inspector general, shall be notified that his testimony will be taken at a private session, whether the issuance of such summons was approved by the inspector general council and whether the witness is a subject of an investigation. A subject of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the investigation. The failure to furnish such witness with any notice or information required to be given by this section shall cause the said summons to be invalid.

In addition, the witness shall be notified that he has a right to consult with and to have an attorney present at the time the testimony is taken and that he has a constitutional right not to furnish or produce evidence which may tend to incriminate him.

A person summonsed to attend and testify under oath shall appear and testify under oath before at least two persons, one of whom shall be the attorney general or his designee, the state auditor or his designee, the secretary of public safety or his designee, the state comptroller or his designee, or other members of the inspector general council, and the other of whom shall be the inspector general or an employee of the office who is an attorney admitted to practice in the commonwealth and approved by the inspector general council.

The terms of any such summons must be reasonable, and the information sought from the summonsed witness must be reasonably related to the subject matter under investigation. No such summons may be issued for purposes of harassment or for any illegitimate or improper purpose. All constitutional and statutory rights and privileges which exist with respect to any summons issued by a court, including the privilege against self-incrimination, shall have the same force and effect with respect to any such summons issued by the inspector general.

A summonsed person may object to the summons served upon him in advance of the return date of the summons by a complaint in the nature of a motion to quash filed in the superior court department of the trial court in Suffolk county. The filing of a complaint in the nature of a motion to quash shall stay all pending summons until further order of the superior court. Any justice of the superior court may, upon application by the inspector general, issue an order to compel the attendance of witnesses summonsed as aforesaid and the giving of testimony under oath in furtherance of any audit or investigation under this chapter in the same manner and to the same extent as before the superior court. Failure to obey any order of the court with respect to said summons may be punished by said court as contempt.

Any summons issued pursuant to this section shall not be made public by the inspector general or any persons subject to his direction or by any member of the inspector general council or person designated to hear testimony under this section, and testimony given shall be governed by the same provisions with reference to secrecy which govern grand jury proceedings. Whoever violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than six months in a jail or house of correction or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars. Disclosure of such testimony may be made to such members of the staff of the office of inspector general as is deemed necessary by the inspector general to assist him in the performance of his duties and responsibilities under this chapter and such members of the staff may be present at the taking of such testimony.