2004 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Chaney, Doxey, King, Hyde-Smith, Burton, Nunnelee, Albritton, Morgan, Brown
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 5-1-21, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DEFINE THE CRIME OF CONTEMPT OF THE LEGISLATURE, AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES, VENUE AND PROCEDURES FOR THE PROSECUTION OF THE CRIME; TO REPEAL SECTION 5-1-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR PROCEEDINGS AGAINST RECALCITRANT WITNESSES BY THE LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 5-1-21, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
5-1-21. (1) A subpoena requiring the attendance of any witness before either house of the Legislature, or a committee, subcommittee or joint committee thereof, may be issued by the presiding officer or the chairman of any committee before which the attendance of the witness is desired. Such subpoena may be served by any person who might be a witness in the matter of its service, and his affidavit that he delivered a copy to the witness shall be evidence of service.
(2) Whenever either the Senate or the House of Representatives, or any committee thereof, or any joint committee of the Legislature or any subcommittee of a committee or joint committee, issues a subpoena for any person to appear or provide records in any matter under review or investigation, such person shall be guilty of criminal contempt of the Legislature if such person:
(a) Willfully defaults by failing to appear or to produce papers or records as ordered; or
(b) Having appeared, refuses to take the oath or affirmation of the witness; or
(c) Having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry.
(3) Whenever any act alleged to constitute contempt of the Legislature as defined in subsection (2) of this section occurs before either the Senate or the House of Representatives, a committee, subcommittee or joint committee, such act shall be reported, by resolution, to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House. In the case of a joint committee, the contempt shall be reported to the presiding officer of the chairperson's house. The resolution shall include:
(a) The date of issuance of any subpoena which was willfully disregarded or the false information provided to the committee or legislative body;
(b) The purpose for which the subpoena was issued, if a subpoena was issued and a listing of any documents, papers, records, listed in the subpoena;
(c) The name and address of the person or persons to whom the subpoena was directed if a subpoena was issued, or in the case of a firm, corporation, association, partnership or other entity, public or private, the name and address of the person or persons responsible for providing information or testimony;
(d) The name and address of the person or persons who provided false information to the legislative committee or body, if false information was provided, or the names and addresses of any person who refused to answer questions or provide information when directed to do so;
(e) If false information was willfully provided, a complete recitation of the false information, and the committee or legislative body's reason for concluding that the information provided was false;
(f) If any person or persons refused to answer questions or refused to provide information, a complete recitation of all questions not answered or information not provided;
(g) A prayer for relief directed to the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County; and
(h) The signature of the presiding officer of the legislative committee or body voting in favor of the resolution.
Following the report, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House shall certify to the prosecuting attorney for the county where venue lies, the occurrence of the alleged contempt of the Legislature.
Following certification, the county prosecutor shall bring criminal proceedings against the person alleged to be in contempt of the Legislature.
(4) Whenever any person is found guilty of criminal contempt of the Legislature, such person shall be fined an amount of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) and imprisoned for a term not to exceed six (6) months.
(5) The penalties provided in this section are supplemental to any other criminal penalties or civil remedies provided for under the laws and Constitution of the State of Mississippi.
(6) For purposes of this section, proper venue lies in any county wherein the alleged act constituting contempt occurred.
SECTION 2. Section 5-1-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for proceedings against recalcitrant witnesses by the Legislature, is hereby repealed.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.