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Multicounty grand jury becoming crucial tool for investigators

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Prosecutors are praising the state's multicounty grand jury, but defense attorneys worry about the panel's secrecy and broad subpoena powers.

The so-called ``people's panel'' has been part of prosecutors' arsenals since it was created by state statute in 1987.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office advises the 12-member panel and directs its investigations. He says local prosecutors have learned how helpful it can be.

But defense attorneys are concerned that the grand jury can be used to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents that put criminal suspects at a disadvantage.

Defense attorney Mack Martin of Oklahoma City says he thinks it's being abused.

Unlike federal grand juries, he says state prosecutors do not tell subpoenaed witnesses whether they are targets of an investigation before they are required to testify.
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