15A-623. Grand jury proceedings and operation in general.

(a) The finding of an indictment, the return of a presentment, and every other affirmative official action or decision of the grand jury requires the concurrence of at least 12 members of the grand jury.

(b) The foreman presides over all hearings and has the power to administer oaths or affirmations to all witnesses.

(c) The foreman must indicate on each bill of indictment or presentment the witness or witnesses sworn and examined before the grand jury. Failure to comply with this provision does not vitiate a bill of indictment or presentment.

(d) During the deliberations and voting of a grand jury, only the grand jurors may be present in the grand jury room. During its other proceedings, the following persons, in addition to a witness being examined, may, as the occasion requires, also be present:

(1) An interpreter, if needed.

(2) A law-enforcement officer holding a witness in custody.

Any person other than a witness who is permitted in the grand jury room must first take an oath before the grand jury that he will keep secret all matters before it within his knowledge.

(e) Grand jury proceedings are secret and, except as expressly provided in this Article, members of the grand jury and all persons present during its sessions shall keep its secrets and refrain from disclosing anything which transpires during any of its sessions.

(f) The presiding judge may direct that a bill of indictment be kept secret until the defendant is arrested or appears before the court. The clerk must seal the bill of indictment and no person including a witness may disclose the finding of the bill of indictment, or the proceedings leading to the finding, except when necessary for the issuance and execution of an order of arrest.

(g) Any grand juror or other person authorized to attend sessions of the grand jury and bound to keep its secrets who discloses, other than to his attorney, matters occurring before the grand jury other than in accordance with the provisions of this section is in contempt of court and subject to proceedings in accordance with law.

(h) If a grand jury is convened pursuant to G.S. 15A-622(h), notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, a prosecutor shall be present to examine witnesses, and a court reporter shall be present and record the examination of witnesses. The record shall be transcribed. If the prosecutor determines that it is necessary to compel testimony from the witness, he may grant use immunity to the witness. The grant of use immunity shall be given to the witness in writing by the prosecutor and shall be signed by the prosecutor. The written grant of use immunity shall also be read into the record by the prosecutor and shall include an explanation of use immunity as provided in G.S. 15A-1051. A witness shall have the right to leave the grand jury room to consult with his counsel at reasonable intervals and for a reasonable period of time upon the request of the witness. Notwithstanding subsection (e) of this section, the record of the examination of witnesses shall be made available to the examining prosecutor, and he may disclose contents of the record to other investigative or law-enforcement officers, the witness or his attorney to the extent that the disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of his official duties. The record of the examination of a witness may be used in a trial to the extent that it is relevant and otherwise admissible. Further disclosure of grand jury proceedings convened pursuant to this act may be made upon written order of a superior court judge if the judge determines disclosure is essential:

(1) To prosecute a witness who appeared before the grand jury for contempt or perjury; or

(2) To protect a defendant's constitutional rights or statutory rights to discovery pursuant to G.S. 15A-903.

Upon the convening of the investigative grand jury pursuant to approval by the three-judge panel, the district attorney shall subpoena the witnesses. The subpoena shall be served by the investigative grand jury officer, who shall be appointed by the court. The name of the person subpoenaed and the issuance and service of the subpoena shall not be disclosed, except that a witness so subpoenaed may divulge that information. The presiding superior court judge shall hear any matter concerning the investigative grand jury in camera to the extent necessary to prevent disclosure of its existence. The court reporter for the investigative grand jury shall be present and record and transcribe the in camera proceeding. The transcription of any in camera proceeding and a copy of all subpoenas and other process shall be returned to the Chief Justice or to such member of the three-judge panel as the Chief Justice may designate, to be filed with the Clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The subpoena shall otherwise be subject to the provisions of G.S. 15A-801 and Article 43 of Chapter 15A. When an investigative grand jury has completed its investigation of the crimes alleged in the petition, the investigative functions of the grand jury shall be dissolved and such investigation shall cease. The District Attorney shall file a notice of dissolution of the investigative functions of the grand jury with the Clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court. (1973, c. 1286, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 843, ss. 3, 6; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1040, ss. 1, 4; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1039, s. 4; 1991, c. 686, ss. 2, 3.)