TITLE 36
Public Officers and Employees

CHAPTER 36-14
Code of Ethics

SECTION 36-14-12


§ 36-14-12 Investigative powers of the commission.

(a) The commission is hereby empowered to investigate allegations of violations of the provisions of this chapter and, in furtherance of any investigation, the commission shall have the power to:

(1) Compel the attendance of witnesses and require the production of evidence; and

(2) Take oral or written evidence under oath or affirmation.

(b) Any person, including any member of the commission, may file with the commission a complaint alleging a violation of this chapter. Any complaint filed with the commission shall be a statement in writing under oath which shall include the name of the person alleged to have committed the violation and which shall set forth in detail the specific act or acts complained of. The commission shall, within seventy-two (72) hours of the filing of any complaint, cause a copy of that complaint to be served, by certified mail, return receipt requested, upon any person alleged in the complaint to have committed a violation of this chapter.

(c) Upon receipt of a written complaint alleging a violation of this chapter, the commission shall within one hundred eighty (180) days of receipt of the written complaint complete its investigation; provided that, the commission may, for good cause shown, grant no more than two (2) extensions of sixty (60) days each.

(1) If the commission determines that the verified complaint does not allege facts sufficient to constitute a knowing and willful violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, it shall dismiss the complaint and notify the complainant and the respondent of the dismissal. The contents and substance of any complaint so dismissed, any answer thereto, and the notice of dismissal shall be made public.

(2) If the commission determines that the verified complaint alleges facts sufficient to constitute a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, the commission shall promptly investigate the allegations contained in the complaint, make a finding on the complaint, and any amendment thereto.

(3) If the commission finds after its preliminary investigation that probable cause does not exist to support the allegations of the complaint, the commission shall dismiss the complaint and notify the complainant and the respondent of the dismissal. The contents and substance of any complaint so dismissed, any answer thereto, and the notice of dismissal shall be made public.

(4) If the commission finds that probable cause does exist to support the allegations of the complaint, it shall prepare written findings which shall state in detail the violations complained of and the manner in which they occurred and shall fix a time for hearing on the matter; provided, however, that, before it issues any findings, the commission shall permit the respondent to submit a written statement and/or to appear in person or by counsel for the purpose of presenting arguments and/or written evidence in response to the allegations against him or her. The respondent shall be entitled to examine and make copies of all evidence in the possession of the commission relating to the complaint. Upon the issuance of any findings, the commission shall notify the complainant and the respondent of its action.

(5) If the commission, during the course of its investigation, has probable cause to believe that violations of this chapter, other than those contained in the complaint, have been committed, it may, upon its own motion, amend the complaint to include the violations. The commission shall, within seventy-two (72) hours of any amendment, cause a copy of the amended complaint to be served, by certified mail, return receipt requested, upon any person alleged in the amended complaint to have committed a violation of this chapter. Any person alleged by an amended complaint to have committed a violation of this chapter shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations contained therein.

(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the commission to make any of its investigatory records public.

(d) The commission, upon a finding pursuant to this section that there fails to exist probable cause for a violation of this chapter, shall issue an order dismissing the complaint, and if it finds the complaint to be frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless, the commission shall require the person filing the complaint to pay a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), all or part of which may be paid to the subject of the complaint in reimbursement of said subject's reasonable expenses of defense.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1987, ch. 195, § 3; P.L. 1990, ch. 463, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 177, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 436, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 256, § 1.)