Legislation Giving State’s Attorneys Subpoena Power Passes the State Senate

May 27, 2003

A bill that would give certain state’s attorneys the power to subpoena witnesses passed successfully through the State Senate today. State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven) co-sponsored a bi-partisan strike-all amendment that made several alterations to the original bill. The amended bill would allow the Chief State’s Attorney, deputy Chief State’s Attorneys, and state’s attorneys, after authorization by a Superior Court judge, to subpoena a person to testify or produce property relevant to an investigation into a variety of crimes including racketeering, bribery, bid rigging, and paying or receiving kickbacks.

“I am very happy that my colleagues were able to work together, in a bi-partisan manner, to see this bill through,” said Senator Fasano, who serves on the General Assembly’s Committee on General Law. “State’s attorneys, with this new ability to both apply for and quash subpoenas, will be more equipped to pursue criminal activity.”

The amendment that actually became the bill, LCO 6559, addressed several concerns brought up by legislators from both parties, most notably that the underlying bill originally gave the state’s attorneys too much power.

“There were legitimate concerns that the original bill would compromise the rights guaranteed under our Constitution,” said Senator Fasano. “However, Senator McDonald and I worked together on the amendment to ensure that everyone’s rights would be procedurally protected.”

“We have put plenty of checks and balances into the amended legislation. For instance, in order for the judge to even authorize the subpoena, the attorney must demonstrate that they have exhausted all of their other options for securing the witness to testify,” added Senator Fasano. “The state’s attorneys do not have free reign, as some argued, and the fear that this legislation would result in “witch hunts” is unfounded.”

The bill, state Senate Bill 969 An Act Concerning Investigative Subpoenas, now moves onto the State House of Representatives for a vote.