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York County's top judge has authorized the creation of an investigative grand jury panel, the York County District Attorney's Office has confirmed.

Grand juries generally are convened to review evidence and determine whether it's substantial enough to warrant criminal charges. Grand juries also can hand down indictments.

The district attorney's office asked York County President Common Pleas Judge Joseph C. Adams to issue an order summoning an investigative grand jury, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the office.

Adams issued the order to convene a grand jury, King confirmed.

Grand juries can examine multiple cases. It's unclear how many cases, and which ones, this grand jury will be tasked with reviewing.

King said no one at the district attorney's office is at liberty to discuss "any matters concerning the investigative grand jury."

He cited Pennsylvania law, which states that prosecutors and other court employees are sworn to secrecy about grand jury proceedings and can be held in contempt of court for violating the law.

York County used investigating grand juries to review evidence of crimes committed during York City's 1969 race riots, during which city Officer Henry Schaad and a woman visiting family in York — Lillie Belle Allen — were murdered.

A number of men either pleaded guilty or were found guilty at trial in York County Court of the separate murders.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

 

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