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Every officer, department, board or commission authorized to hold hearings or conduct investigations shall have power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence and for that purpose it may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of persons and the production of documents and cause them to be served in any part of the City. If any witness shall refuse to testify as to any fact within his knowledge or to produce any documents within his possession or under his control, the facts relating to such refusal shall forthwith be reported to any one of the Courts of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and all questions arising upon such refusal and also upon any new evidence not included in the report, which new evidence may be offered either in behalf of or against such witness, shall as promptly as possible be heard by such court. If the court shall determine that the testimony or document required of such witness is legally competent and ought to be given or produced by him, the court may make an order commanding such witness to testify or to produce documents or do both and if the witness shall thereafter refuse so to testify or so to produce documents in disobedience of such order of the court, the court may deal with the witness as in other cases.
Sources: Act of June 25, 1919, P.L. 581, Article XVI, Section 8.
Purposes: Administrative hearing or investigatory process may at times require the compulsion of a subpoena to be effective. Officers and agencies authorized to hold hearings or conduct investigations are thus empowered to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence within the geographical limits of the City, the jurisdiction over which this Charter extends. Since subpoenas for this purpose may be disobeyed and since such disobedience is not punishable by imprisonment and fine unless it continues after a court has ordered compliance, City officers and agencies are authorized to resort through the Law Department (see Section 8-410) to the courts. However, the Charter Commission did not possess any power to require courts to enforce such administrative process or to specify the usual penalty of commitment for contempt until compliance. Cf. Annotation to Section 2-401. Accordingly, the action a court is to take is a matter for its discretion and subject to its customary powers.