1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representatives Endt, Guice
House Bill 299
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 25-4-21, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT STATE AND COUNTY OFFENDERS FROM FILING COMPLAINTS WITH THE MISSISSIPPI ETHICS COMMISSION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 25-4-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-4-21. (1) Upon receipt of a sworn complaint, or upon complaint initiated by the commission itself, the commission shall send a copy to the person complained of and proceed as follows:
(a) If the complaint concerns a public official in the legislative branch, the commission shall refer the complaint, confidentially, to the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives or the Senate having jurisdiction over the ethical conduct of its members and employees.
(b) If the complaint concerns a public official in the judicial branch, the commission shall refer the complaint, confidentially, to the Commission on Judicial Performance or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
(c) If the complaint concerns a public official in the executive branch or persons not covered in subsection (a) or (b) of this section, then the commission shall refer the complaint, confidentially, to the head of the department or agency, if the person is in the executive branch, or to the person about whom the complaint is filed, for other persons involved in this subsection.
(d) The persons, committees or commission receiving the complaints referred to in subsection (a), (b) or (c) shall have thirty (30) days within which to respond to the complaint.
(e) After receiving the response to the complaint or, if no response is received after thirty (30) days from the notice of referral, the commission may, in its discretion, terminate the matter or proceed with an investigation as follows:
(i) All commission proceedings and records relating to any investigation shall be confidential, except as otherwise provided in this paragraph (e).
(ii) The commission may terminate any and all proceedings at any stage of its procedure upon a determination that an appropriate disposition of the matter has occurred.
(iii) If the investigation indicates probable cause for belief that a violation of law has occurred, the commission shall refer the complaint with any evidence gathered during the investigation to the Attorney General and to the district attorney having jurisdiction, with a recommendation that it be considered for presentation to the grand jury, as well as any further recommendations for seeking civil remedies. The Attorney General and the district attorney shall report back to the commission within ninety (90) days as to what action was taken following receipt of the complaint and recommendations of the commission, including the intent of the Attorney General to seek civil remedies and the intent of the district attorney to present the matter to the grand jury.
(2) State offenders, who are committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections, and county offenders, who have been sentenced to imprisonment in a county jail, are prohibited from filing any complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.