The commission may conduct proceedings in a confidential executive session for the purpose of establishing business, establishing policy, reviewing investigations, and interrogating a witness or witnesses: Provided, That if a witness desires a public or open hearing the witness may demand an open hearing and shall not be heard otherwise: Provided, however, That if a witness desires a hearing in an executive session, the witness may so request and shall not be heard otherwise. However, members of the staff of the commission may be permitted to attend executive sessions.
All witnesses appearing before the commission shall testify under oath or affirmation, and any member of the commission or its staff may administer oaths or affirmations to such witnesses. To compel witnesses to attend a hearing or produce any books, records, documents, or papers, or any other tangible thing except where the records, documents, data, or items are protected from disclosure by state or federal law or privilege recognized by state or federal courts, the commission may issue subpoenas, signed by one of the cochairs: Provided, That the commission may specifically authorize or delegate the power to its director to sign subpoenas on its behalf. The subpoenas shall be served by any person authorized by law to serve and execute legal process, and service shall be made without charge. Witnesses subpoenaed to attend hearings shall be allowed the same mileage and per diem as is allowed witnesses before any petit jury in this state.
If any person subpoenaed to appear at any hearing shall refuse to appear or to answer inquiries there propounded, or shall fail or refuse to produce books, records, documents, papers, or any other tangible thing within his or her control when the same are demanded, the commission shall report the facts to the circuit court of Kanawha County or any other court of competent jurisdiction and such court may compel obedience to the subpoena as though such subpoena had been issued by such court in the first instance: Provided, That prior to seeking circuit court relief, the commission may, in its discretion, first demand the head of the public agency in which an employee has failed to appear or which has failed to produce requested or subpoenaed material to appear before the commission and address the basis for the failure to comply and whether compliance will be forthcoming.