Will it find fault with the inner workings of the court, which is often viewed as more interested in political and personal connections than in legal precedent? Will it issue another scathing report on Larsen? Will it prove or disprove Larsen's accusations about Justices Stephen A. Zappala and Ralph J. Cappy?
In court documents filed in November, Larsen contended that Zappala had received "indirect" kickbacks, secretly taped phone conversations and guided two cases through the court in a special manner. He accused Cappy of engineering a procedural advantage for a criminal defendant who lied about Larsen.
In a later document, Larsen accused Zappala of "commandeering" a car that he said nearly ran him down outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Center City in
The special counsel team hired to conduct the inquiry will "have to explain with a degree of precision what happened," said Frederick L. Voigt, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, a civic watchdog group. "If they fail to do that, they will have wasted a million dollars in taxpayers' money. They will have disgraced themselves."
The grand jury's final report on the case has been sealed by Lebanon County Common Pleas Court Judge G. Thomas Gates, the supervising judge of the grand jury, who agreed to Larsen's request for an opportunity to file a written response to the report.
The special counsel team that conducted the inquiry - former U.S. Attorney Edward S.G. Dennis Jr., former Maine Attorney General James E. Tierney and former federal prosecutors Eric Kraeutler and John C. Dodds - has been silent about what to expect.
But because Larsen has been given a chance to respond to the report, it is almost certain that he has been severely criticized. The only time a judge has the legal discretion to allow such a response is in a case when someone has been criticized.
Lawyers for Zappala and Cappy said neither justice had received a copy of the report. "The fact that we have not received a grand-jury report indicates to me that neither justice is criticized," said Pittsburgh lawyer Robert Cindrich, who represents Cappy.
Court sources say the grand jury concluded that Larsen had not supplied clear evidence to back up his accusations.
Larsen is due in court in Pittsburgh on Monday to answer charges that he illegally obtained prescription anti-anxiety drugs through court employees for 12 years by persuading his physician to write the prescription for him in the employees' names.
The 10-page grand-jury presentment said Larsen had been in psychotherapy for clinical anxiety and depression since the 1960s but did not want the public to know that he had been taking prescription drugs.
The presentment says Larsen persuaded his family physician to write prescriptions for the drugs in the names of four employees; it quoted Larsen as having admitted in testimony that any prescriptions written for the four were actually for him.
The charges seem potentially devastating to Larsen, 59, a 16-year veteran of the court. The doctor testified that Larsen was "so dependent on these things" that he did not want to keep Larsen from obtaining the drugs, the presentment says.
Larsen's attorney, William C. Costopoulos, disputed the prosecution's contention that Larsen's actions constituted crimes. He said Larsen intended to fight the charges.
"He has fought for the principles of the underdog throughout his life. He doesn't intend to stop now," said Costopoulos. "He strongly believes that truth will prevail at the end - and with respect to this criminal presentment, the truth means total exoneration."
Costopoulos blasted prosecutors for bringing the charges and accused them of trying to suggest that Larsen was somehow mentally troubled. "That's the purpose of these charges, and I resent it, because I don't think it's fair to him."
After the charges were filed, the six other members of the court relieved Larsen of his duties - with pay - "until further order."
Larsen also faces the possibility of impeachment. Legislators have been waiting for the grand-jury report to determine whether to initiate impeachment proceedings.
State Sen. H. Craig Lewis (D., Bucks), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was "enormously disappointed" that state Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. had not yet addressed all the questions of impropriety at the Supreme Court.
"He set out more than six months ago to look into charges with respect to events surrounding the Larsen investigation. The issue was what was going on in the court," said Lewis. "He made a big to-do and demanded a lot of money
from the General Assembly, which he got. I think there is some accountability due the people of Pennsylvania."
State Sen. Vincent Fumo (D., Phila.), a close friend of Zappala's, said the furor seemed to be boiling down to a case of one bad apple on the court. ''Larsen was the only accuser. And for the grand jury to respond by indicting him clearly says the court isn't as bad as he said," said Fumo.
The forthcoming report is the talk of the legal community, lawyers and judges say.
"I think that the problems go far beyond (Thursday's) presentment on drugs. They go far beyond Justice Larsen," said Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a group that favors court reform. "Hopefully, the grand-jury report will shed some light on the systemic problems in the court system."
Chester County lawyer Samuel C. Stretton said that even if the justices were cleared of wrongdoing, the court should begin working hard to reform and restore its standing.
"They have to do something to create the impression of a scholarly, active court again," said Stretton.
John Berkley Harper, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said he hoped people got fed up enough to try to change the system.
"People are waiting to see what's going to happen next," said Harper. ''We who are in the law are hoping this will be the catalyst for change."
He said the entire controversy, in the end, would just be more bad news for the way the public views the legal system.
"People look down at the law profession. The lawyer jokes are everywhere," said Harper.