Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Tuesday hailing the passage in the House of a bill that would allow prosecutors to use investigative grand juries.
“This is an important step in our fight against public corruption,” Cooper said in a statement his office released. “Investigative grand juries are a critical tool that can help uncover the truth and assure that wrongdoing by public officials will be prosecuted.”
HB908 would allow it in cases of public corruption and complex financial crimes. A three-judge panel would have to grant permission.
The bill, which cleared the house on a 116-0 vote, is sponsored by Rep. Tom Murry, a Republican from Morrisville; Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Raleigh; and Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Fayetteville.
The idea has been around for 15 years but has never made it out of the legislature. Cooper and Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby called a news conference in January to push for another bill this session.
Cooper said in January he thought the time might be right because of a series of highly publicized corruption cases. He also wants to bolster a recent financial-crimes unit
Investigative grand juries allow prosecutors to question witnesses under oath, potentially compelling testimony from people who might not want to cooperate. The juries can also subpoena documents and witnesses.