Section 4: Investigations by the commission
Section 4. (a) Upon receipt of a sworn complaint signed under the penalties of perjury, or upon receipt of evidence which is deemed sufficient by the commission, the commission shall initiate a preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of chapter 268A or 268B. At the commencement of a preliminary inquiry into any such alleged violation, the general counsel shall notify the attorney general in order to avoid overlapping civil and criminal investigations. All commission proceedings and records relating to a preliminary inquiry or initial staff review used to determine whether to initiate an inquiry shall be confidential, except that the general counsel may turn over to the attorney general, the United States Attorney or a district attorney of competent jurisdiction evidence which may be used in a criminal proceeding. The general counsel shall notify any person who is the subject of the preliminary inquiry of the existence of such inquiry and the general nature of the alleged violation within 30 days of the commencement of the inquiry.
(b) If a preliminary inquiry fails to indicate reasonable cause for belief that this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A has been violated, the commission shall immediately terminate the inquiry and so notify, in writing, the complainant, if any, and the person who had been the subject of the inquiry. All commission records and proceedings from any such preliminary inquiry, or from any initial staff review to determine whether to initiate an inquiry, shall be confidential.
(c) If a preliminary inquiry indicates reasonable cause for belief that this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A has been violated, the commission may, upon a majority vote, initiate an adjudicatory proceeding to determine whether there has been such a violation. The commission shall initiate such an adjudicatory proceeding within 5 years from the date the commission learns of the alleged violation, but not more than 6 years from the date of the last conduct relating to the alleged violation.
(d) The commission may require by summons the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers and other records relating to any matter being investigated by it pursuant to this chapter or said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A. Such summons may be issued by the commission only upon a majority vote of the commission and shall be served in the same manner as summonses for witnesses in civil cases, and all provisions of law relative to summonses issued in such cases, including the compensation of witnesses, shall apply to summonses issued by the commission. Such summonses shall have the same force, and be obeyed in the same manner, and under the same penalties in case of default, as if issued by order of a justice of the superior court and may be quashed only upon motion of the summonsed party and by order of a justice of the superior court.
(e) Any member of the commission may administer oaths and any member of the commission may hear testimony or receive other evidence in any proceeding before the commission.
(f) All testimony in a commission adjudicatory proceeding shall be under oath. All parties shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, to introduce exhibits, to cross-examine witnesses who testify, to submit evidence, and to be represented by counsel. Before testifying, all witnesses shall be given a copy of the regulations governing commission proceedings. All witnesses shall be entitled to be represented by counsel.
(g) Any person whose name is mentioned during an adjudicatory proceeding of the commission and who may be adversely affected thereby may appear personally before the commission on his own behalf, with or without an attorney, to give a statement in opposition to such adverse mention or file a written statement of such opposition for incorporation into the record of the proceeding.
(h) All adjudicatory proceedings of the commission carried out pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be public, unless the members vote to go into executive session.
(i) Within thirty days after the end of an adjudicatory proceeding pursuant to the provisions of this section, the commission shall meet in executive session for the purpose of reviewing the evidence before it. Within thirty days after completion of deliberations, the commission shall publish a written report of its findings and conclusions.
(j) The commission, upon a finding pursuant to an adjudicatory proceeding that there has been a violation of said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or a violation of this chapter, may issue an order requiring the violator to:
(1) cease and desist such violation of said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or this chapter;
(2) file any report, statement or other information as required by said chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A or this chapter; or
(3) pay a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation of this chapter or chapter 268A, with the exception of a violation of section 2 of chapter 268A, which shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25,000.
The commission may file a civil action in superior court to enforce such order and any order issued by the commission in accordance with chapter 268A.
(k) Any final action by the commission made pursuant to chapter 268A or 268B shall be subject to review in superior court upon petition of any party in interest filed within thirty days after the action for which review is sought. The court shall enter a judgment enforcing, modifying or setting aside the order of the commission or it may remand the proceedings to the commission for such further action as the court may direct. If the court modifies or sets aside the commission order or remands the proceedings to the commission, the court shall determine whether such modification, set aside or remand is substantial. If the court does find such modification, set aside or remand to be substantial, the employee shall be entitled to be reimbursed from the treasury of the commonwealth for reasonable attorneys' fees and all court costs incurred by him in the defense of the charges contained in said proceedings. The amount of such reimbursement shall be awarded by the court, but shall not exceed $30,000 per person, per case. Reimbursement of such costs shall be applicable to state, county or municipal employees whose conduct is so regulated by the provisions of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A and this chapter.
(l) The superior court shall have concurrent jurisdiction to issue orders under paragraph (j) in a civil action brought by the attorney general. In any such action, an advisory opinion of the commission under clause (g) of section 3 shall be binding to the same extent as it is against the commission under that clause.