In July 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created the Investigating Grand Jury Task Force to review how statewide and county investigating grand juries operate in Pennsylvania. In November 2019, the task force published a comprehensive report and set of recommendations to better define the roles of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, supervising judge, and the prosecutor in investigative grand jury matters. These recommendations also included proposals for improving grand jury secrecy, eliminating (or better regulating) grand jury reports, and allowing local district attorneys to create regional investigating grand juries. On Nov. 26, 2022, the Pennsylvania criminal procedural rules committee published proposed changes to the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure predicated on the task force’s recommendations and recent case law.
Most of the proposed changes simply codify the procedures that are already part of modern investigating grand jury practice, including but not limited to the prosecutor’s ability to instruct the grand jurors on the law, the colloquy to be read to grand jury witnesses before being sworn to testify, the venue for filing motions for return of property seized pursuant to a grand jury search warrant, and the requirement that counsel for witnesses appearing before the grand jury be sworn to secrecy except when disclosure is authorized by law or permitted by the court. However, at least two proposed rules alter existing grand jury practice.