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The Grand Jury Witness

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A witness is entitled to counsel during questioning before the grand jury.

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By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Grand Jury Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

Although there is no constitutional or common law right to representation of counsel before a grand jury, under the Investigating Grand Jury Act a witness subpoenaed to appear and testify before an investigating grand jury or to produce documents, records, or other evidence before an investigating grand jury, is entitled to the assistance of counsel, including assistance when the witness is questioned in the presence of the investigating grand jury. If the witness's counsel of choice is not available, the witness is required to obtain other counsel within a reasonable time so that the grand jury may proceed.


Counsel may be retained by the witness and the court must appoint counsel if the witness is without sufficient funds to obtain legal representation. Counsel is allowed to be present in the grand jury room during the questioning of the witness and to advise the witness, but he or she may make no objections, arguments, or otherwise address the grand jury or the attorney for the Commonwealth. The supervising judge has the same power to remove such counsel from the grand jury room as a judge has with respect to an attorney in any court proceeding

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