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Missouri

Open Government Guide

Author

Benjamin A. Lipman
Vice-President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel
(702) 383-0224
blipman@reviewjournal.com

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Foreword

Two statutes govern access to government meetings and records in Missouri: (1) a statute commonly known as the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010-.035  (together with the separately named Arrest Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.100-.126), originally enacted in 1973; and (2) the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 109.180-.190, originally enacted in 1961.

The Sunshine Law (together with the Arrest Records Law) governs access to government meetings, records and votes. It imposes a general rule requiring public access to meetings, records, votes, actions and deliberations of public governmental bodies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.011. However, the Sunshine Law enumerates certain exceptions to the general rule. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021. Under the Sunshine Law, public access to government meetings or records may be denied only to the extent specifically authorized by the Sunshine Law or other statutes. Generally, matters within an enumerated exception are not automatically closed. Even if a record or proceeding may be closed, it remains open until formally closed, and, although there are exceptions, typically, the government is not required to close records or meetings, even when it has the power to close them. The Sunshine Law was amended in 1994, however, to prohibit disclosure by an “executive agency” of records “closed by law” to the extent disclosure would allow identification of individual persons or entities, except in certain instances. See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.032. But see Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.4 (“Nothing in sections 610.010 to 610.028 shall be construed as to require a public governmental body to hold a closed meeting, record or vote . . .”); Chasnoff v. Board of Police Commissioners, 334 S.W.3d 147, 151 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011) (“Nothing in section 610.021 mandates the closure of records”). An “executive agency” is defined to include state administrative agencies, boards of regents or of curators of public colleges and universities, and subdivisions or agents of such administrative agencies. See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.032.5; Mo.Rev.Stat. § 172.180. With the aid of computer-assisted research, we have attempted to include those statutes that specifically close records or proceedings. We cannot guarantee we identified all of them, and the legislature continues to add to the list of prohibited disclosures.

The Public Records Law is more limited than the Sunshine Law, and only applies to government records that are kept pursuant to statute or ordinance. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180. Moreover, access under the Public Records Law is subject to reasonable regulations by the government agencies affected. Although the Sunshine Law is broader than the Public Records Law, and, generally, every record that could be obtained under the Public Records Law could also be obtained under the Sunshine Law, the Public Records Law remains significant. A statute may expressly exempt certain government records from the Sunshine Law, but fail to address the Public Records Law. Cf. Missouri Development Finance Board Act, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 100.296.

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Open Records

I. Statute

A. Who can request records?

1. Status of requester

Any member of the public can request public records under the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.010-.030. Access is not limited to United States, Missouri or community citizens. State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities of City of Springfield v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285, 289 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (the Sunshine Law confers rights on the general public and not upon any particular segment or representative of the general public). However, only Missouri citizens may request public records pursuant to the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180 (“[r]ecords kept pursuant to statute or ordinance shall . . . be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of Missouri”).

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2. Purpose of request

The requester’s purpose generally does not affect his or her right to receive records under either the Sunshine Law or the Public Records Law. See, e.g., In re Transit Casualty Co., 435 S.W.3d 293, 300 (Mo. banc 2001) (“Citizens of Missouri have the right to inspect and copy any public record even if there is no apparent legal interest to be subserved”); State ex rel. Pulitzer Missouri Newspapers, Inc. v. Seay, 330 S.W.3d 823 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011); State ex rel. Gray v. Brigham, 622 S.W.2d 734, 735 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981). But, see, Fletcher v. Tomlinson, No. 4:14-CV-999, 2014 WL 5425555 (E.D. Mo. 2014) (holding information regarding police practices and equipment was not required to be disclosed because it did not affect the general public). In addition, a number of the statutory exemptions from the disclosure requirements of the two open records acts allow access to records for those with a direct and tangible interest in the records. See, e.g., Vital Records Act, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.245 -.246.

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3. Use of records

The subsequent use to be made of information obtained under the Sunshine Law or Public Records Law generally is not restricted. However, in a number of statutory exceptions, information from records can only be used for “legitimate research purposes.” See, e.g., Vital Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.245(2).

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B. Whose records are and are not subject to the act

By definition, the Sunshine Law applies to “public governmental bodies” and “quasi-public governmental bodies.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.011. The definition of public governmental bodies includes, among others, the executive and legislative branches of state government, the judicial branch when acting in an administrative capacity, political subdivisions of the state, committees and commissions appointed by the governor, deliberative bodies under the direction of three or more elected or appointed members having rule making or quasi-judicial authority, as well as The Curators of the University of Missouri and other governing bodies of any institution of higher learning that is supported in whole or in part from state funds. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(a)-(f).

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1. Executive branch

Records of the executives themselves- the governor, mayors, and other chief executive persons- and executive bodies are subject to public inspection under the Sunshine Law. See MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 537 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984) (county executive, a single member executive body, may be a “public governmental body” under the Sunshine Law); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (city coordinator, chief assistant to mayor, is a “public governmental body” under the Sunshine Law); Hemeyer v. KRCG-TV, 6 S.W.3d 880 (Mo. banc 1999) (a sheriff’s videotape of the booking of a suspect is a ‘retained public record’ under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6)). Records of executives are subject to public inspection under the Public Records Law only if those records are required to be kept by statute or ordinance. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180.

Administrative bodies are also subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). See Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 329 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (“[a]n earlier definition of ‘public governmental body’ . . . was amended in 1978 and again in 1982 to specifically include administrative or executive bodies.”); MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 538 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984)(“it is unnecessary that an entity have binding authority for it to be subject to the Sunshine Law. It is within the meaning of the law if its determinations affect the public.”) Administrative bodies are also subject to the Public Records Law, if the records of those administrative bodies are kept pursuant to statute or ordinance.

Under the Sunshine Law, records of the executive branch are subject to disclosure if they reflect deliberations or decisions that in any way affect the public. MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 538 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984). In contrast, the Public Records Law does not call for a functional approach to disclosure of government records. Rather, it requires disclosure of any record required to be kept pursuant to statute or ordinance, whether that record relates to preliminary fact-finding, deliberations, or decision-making.

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2. Legislative bodies

Legislative bodies are subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4) (definition of “public governmental body” includes any legislative governmental entity created by the constitution, statutes, order or ordinance).

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3. Courts

The Sunshine Law applies to court records when the courts are acting in an administrative capacity. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). See Johnson v. State, 366 S.W.3d 11 (Mo. 2012) (holding that judicial entities are not subject to the provisions of the Sunshine Law unless operating in an administrative capacity). However, Article 1, § 14 of the Missouri Constitution provides that “the courts of justice shall be open to every person,” and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 476.170 provides that “the sitting of every court shall be public and every person may freely attend the same.” See also, Court Operating Rule 2. Moreover, the Missouri Supreme Court has recognized a qualified common law right of access to court records. In re Transit Casualty Co., 435 S.W.3d 293, 300 (Mo. banc 2001) (“It is undisputed . . . that there is a common law right of public access to court and other public records”). See In Re Midwest Milk Monopolization Litigation, 405 F.Supp. 118, 121 (W.D.Mo. 1975) (“the notion that a reporter is free to report only that which transpires in the courtroom, as distinguished from data in the open files of a court, is untenable. The First Amendment protects the right to report pleadings and other data contained in the open files maintained by the clerk’s office, all of which are available for examination by the general public”).

The Attorney General has stated that boards of jury commissioners are public governmental bodies acting in administrative capacities, and if a board retains a list of prospective or qualified jurors, it must provide copies pursuant to a Sunshine Law request. (AG Opinion No. 106-2001).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321 provides that “[r]ecords of juvenile court proceedings as well as all information obtained and social records prepared in the discharge of official duty for the court shall not be open to inspection or their contents disclosed,” with some exceptions.  A notable exceptions is for cases in which the juvenile has been charged with a crime “which, if committed by an adult, would be a class A felony under the criminal code of Missouri, or capital murder, first degree murder, or second degree murder.”  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.1. An otherwise open record containing information that identifies a juvenile, and is not otherwise open to the public, must be redacted to remove all such identifying information before the remainder of the record is released. (AG Opinion No. 37-2003).

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4. Nongovernmental bodies

The Sunshine Law by its terms extends only to “public governmental bodies” — Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4) — and “quasi-public governmental bodies” — Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(f). Entities, such as charitable groups, that are not an arm of state government or are not an arm of a government that derives its power from the state and do not meet the criteria of a quasi-public governmental body are not subject to the Sunshine Law simply because they receive state support.

Non-governmental entities are not covered by the Sunshine Law simply by virtue of the fact that governmental officials advise them or sit on their boards unless they meet the criteria outlined in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(a)-(f).

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5. Multi-state or regional bodies

Records of a public governmental body relating to multistate or regional bodies (such as planning authorities) are subject to the Sunshine Law to the extent they are retained by that public governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). The Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(g), has been amended to expressly include bi-state development agencies established pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 70.370.  But see KMOV‑TV, Inc. v. Bi‑State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metro Dist., 625 F. Supp. 2d 808 (E.D.Mo. 2008) (approval by the Illinois legislature is required in order to apply the Sunshine Law to Bi‑State).

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6. Advisory boards and commissions, quasi-governmental entities

Advisory boards are subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(e); MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984) (holding that Annexation Study Commission, which considered and recommended changes in delivery of governmental changes to County Executive, is subject to Sunshine Law).

Quasi-public governmental bodies are subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(f) (definition of “public governmental body” includes “quasi-public governmental bodies”); Remington v. City of Boonville, 701 S.W.2d 804, 806-807 (Mo.Ct.App. 1985).

Quasi-public governmental bodies include religious and charitable associations, urban development corporations and general not-for-profit corporations organized or authorized to do business in Missouri under the provisions of Chapters 352, 353 and 355, Mo.Rev.Stat., respectively, and unincorporated associations which have as their primary purpose either (1) to enter into contracts with public governmental bodies or (2) to engage primarily in activities carried out pursuant to an agreement or agreements with public governmental bodies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(f). See North Kansas City Hospital Board of Trustees v. St. Luke’s Northland Hospital, 984 S.W.2d 113, 117-188 (Mo.Ct.App. 1998) (holding that non-profit health corporation that managed physician practices and operated medical facilities for municipal hospital under direction of hospital’s Board of Trustee was “engaged primarily in activities carried out pursuant to an agreement” with the Board and was therefore a quasi-public governmental body subject to the Sunshine Act.)

Quasi-public governmental bodies do not include urban redevelopment corporations which are privately owned, operated for profit, and do not expend public funds. Such urban redevelopment corporations are not subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). However, redevelopment corporations that have the power to exercise eminent domain, allocate or issue tax-free debt, tax credits, or tax abatements are subject to the Sunshine Law, but such coverage may only extend to such records and meetings that address the expenditure of public funds. Mo.Rev.Stat § 610.010(4)(f)(b).

Quasi-judicial bodies are subject to the Sunshine Law. Remington v. City of Boonville, 701 S.W.2d 804, 806 (Mo.Ct.App. 1985) (holding that city’s board of zoning adjustment was subject to the Sunshine Law); But see Nasrallah v. Missouri Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 1996 WL 678640 at *5-6 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (when an administrative agency acts in a quasi-judicial capacity, adjudication is closed).  However, subsequently, a Missouri Court of Appeals followed the reasoning of Remington, and in so doing held “Nashrallah has absolutely no precedential value, as the case was transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court and later dismissed.” Wilkendon Partnership v. St. Louis County Board of Equalization, 497 S.W.3d 873 (Mo.Ct.App. 2016) (rejecting the argument that a public governmental body becomes a judicial entity not subject to the Sunshine Law when performing adjudicative functions).

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7. Others

Any record, survey, memorandum or other document or study prepared and presented to a public governmental body by a consultant or other professional service paid for in whole or in part by public funds is a public record subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law. This includes records created or maintained by a private contractor under an agreement with or on behalf of a public governmental body. Records prepared for a public governmental body by a consultant shall be retained by the body in the same manner as any other public record. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6).

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C. What records are and are not subject to the act?

1. What kinds of records are covered?

a. The Sunshine Law embraces any record retained by or of any public governmental body, regardless of its nature or source. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6). See National Council for Teachers Quality, Inc. v. Curators of University of Missouri, 446 S.W.723 (Mo. Ct. App. 2014) (determining there is a presumption records are open to public inspection unless clearly within one of the exemptions).
b. The Public Records Law applies only to state, county and municipal records kept pursuant to statute or ordinance. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180.
c. The common law right of access to public records includes all records kept by public officials in discharging their duties. Disabled Police Veterans Club v. Long, 279 S.W.2d 220, 223 (Mo.Ct.App. 1955) (“independently of statute the term public records covers not only papers expressly required to be kept by a public officer but all written materials made by a public officer within his authority where such writings constitute a convenient, appropriate or customary method of discharging the duties of the office.”)

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2. What physical form of records are covered

The Sunshine Law applies to all public records, “whether written or electronically stored.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6). See also Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026(1)(refers to fees for access to public records maintained on computer facilities, recording tapes or discs, video tapes or films, pictures, slides, graphics, illustrations or similar audio or visual items or devices).  In addition, the Sunshine Law strongly encourages public governmental bodies to keep records in electronic form, and to make information available in usable electronic formats.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.029.1

The Sunshine Law requires that any member of a public governmental body who transmits any message relating to public business concurrently transmit the message either to the member’s public office computer or to the custodian of records in the same format, becoming a public record (subject to the enumerated exceptions). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

The Public Records Law does not expressly restrict public records to a particular physical form, but merely refers to “records, instruments or documents.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180. Access under the Public Records Law is subject to “reasonable rules and conditions imposed by proper authorities.” State ex rel. Gray v. Brigham, 622 S.W.2d 734, 735 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981). Therefore, if access to a public record on a computer disk is determined unreasonable by the proper authority, there may be no right of access under the Public Records Law.

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3. Are certain records available for inspection but not copying?

Both the Sunshine Law and the Public Records Law authorize public inspection and copying of public records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.2; Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.190. Inspection and copying of public records is also authorized by common law. Disabled Police Veterans Club v. Long, 279 S.W.2d 220, 223 (Mo.Ct.App. 1955).  However, if copying the material violates another law, such as the Federal Copyright Act, only access to the record may be obtained, not copying.  National Council for Teachers Quality, Inc. v. Curators of University of Missouri, 446 S.W.3d 723 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 2014) (holding that copying and distributing syllabi would violate the Federal Copyright Act).

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4. Telephone call logs

No applicable law in this area.

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5. Electronic records

In 1993 the Missouri Legislature enacted a new section of the Sunshine Law dealing specifically with electronic records. This section was amended in 2004. See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.029, now providing that a public governmental body may not enter into a contract for the creation or maintenance of a public records database if that contract impairs the ability of the public to inspect or copy the public records of that agency.

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a. Can the requester choose a format for receiving records?

A public governmental body “may” provide electronic services involving public records to members of the public. By statute, public governmental bodies are “strongly encouraged,” but not required, “to make information available in usable electronic formats to the greatest extent feasible.” A useable electronic format shall allow, at a minimum, viewing and printing of records. However, if electronic records are kept on a system capable of allowing the copying of electronic documents into other electronic documents, the public may request the data in electronic format and the governmental body “shall” comply. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.029.1. A separate provision allows that “[i]f records are requested in a certain format, the public body shall provide the records in the requested format, if such format is available.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.3.

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b. Can the requester obtain a customized search of computer databases to fit particular needs

Customized searches of computer databases are authorized, but not mandated, by the statute. See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.029.

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c. Does the existence of information in electronic format affect its openness?

Electronic information is treated the same as paper information, and a public governmental body may not enter into a contract for the creation or maintenance of an electronic record database that as a practical matter makes the electronic records more difficult to inspect than ordinary records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.029.1. In the instances where litigation has been brought to secure the information, the electronic status of the information was not an issue. See, e.g., Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (pension payment records, which were stored electronically, were ordered disclosed).  However, for information to be obtained, it must be available in an existing document, electronic or otherwise.  Douglas v. Office of the State Courts Administrator, 470 S.W.3d 29 (Mo.Ct. App. 2015).

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d. Online dissemination

Missouri operates an extensive Web site on the Internet. The information available on the site changes rapidly, and includes judicial decisions, administrative agency records and reports, and voluminous business registration information. The Missouri State Government home site can be found at http://www.state.mo.us.

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6. How is email treated?

The Sunshine Law requires that any member of a public governmental body who transmits any message relating to public business concurrently transmit the message either to the member’s public office computer or to the custodian of records in the same format, becoming a public record (subject to the enumerated exceptions). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

E-mail can be a public record. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1.

Records retained by a governmental body are public records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6).

There is no case law on this issue. However, records retained by a governmental body are public records.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6).

The Sunshine Law requires that any member of a public governmental body who transmits any message relating to public business concurrently transmit the message either to the member’s public office computer or to the custodian of records in the same format, becoming a public record (subject to the enumerated exceptions). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

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7. How are text messages and instant messages treated?

There is no case law on this issue. However, records retained by a governmental body are public records.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(6).

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8. How are social media postings treated?

There is no case law on this issue.

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9. Computer software

Software codes for electronic data processing and documentation thereof may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(10).

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D. Fee provisions or practices

The practice of the Director/Reviser of Statutes of selling state statutes on computer tape to the highest bidder, where the bidder subsequently marketed the statutes to the public, was invalidated as constituting an excessive fee for public access to the computerized statutes. Deaton v. Kidd, 932 S.W.2d 804 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996).

The Sunshine Law now contains the following fee provisions in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1:

  • Copying: Not to exceed ten cents per page for a paper copy not larger than nine by fourteen inches, with the hourly fee for duplicating time not to exceed the average hourly rate of pay for clerical staff of the governmental body.
  • Electronic Media: The charge for all forms of electronic media and paper copies larger than nine by fourteen inches includes only the cost of the copies and the staff time for making copies and programming, if necessary, and the cost of the disk, tape, or other medium used for the duplication. “Staff time” shall not exceed the average hourly rate of pay for staff of the governmental body. If programming is required beyond the “usual and customary” level to comply with a records request, the fees may include the actual cost of programming. The amount that can be charged for electronic records is not dependent on the number of records requested, but rather cannot exceed the actual cost to the governmental body of providing such records. L. Polk & Co. v. Missouri Dept. of Revenue, 309 S.W.3d 881 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010).
  • Fees for maps, blueprints, or plats that may require special expertise for duplication may include the actual rate of compensation for the trained personnel required.
  • Research: May be charged at the actual cost of research time.
  • Fee Practices: Based on the scope of the request, the governmental body shall produce the copies using employees that result in the lowest charges for search, research and duplication. A person requesting the records may ask for an estimate of costs before copies are produced.

The Public Records Law authorizes the lawful custodian of the public records copied to charge “a reasonable rate for his services or for the services of a deputy to supervise the work and for the use of the room or place where the work is done.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.190. Because the Public Records Law delegates rulemaking authority regarding fees, the remainder of this section applies to the Sunshine Law only.

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1. Levels or limitations on fees

See above. However, if another statute provides a different fee structure, the other statute is controlling. Webster County Abstract Co., Inc. v. Atkinson, 328 S.W.3d 434, 440 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010) (“the pricing scheme in section 610.026.1 does not govern if a different statute relating to fees for obtaining copies of public records provides otherwise.”).

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2. Particular fee specifications or provisions

Research time for fulfilling records requests may be charged at the actual cost of research time, but the research should be done in a way to produce the lowest cost. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

Not to exceed ten cents per page for a paper copy not larger than nine by fourteen inches, with the hourly fee for duplicating time not to exceed the average hourly rate of pay for clerical staff of the governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

The charge for all forms of electronic media and paper copies larger than nine by fourteen inches includes only the cost of the copies and the staff time for making copies and programming, if necessary, and the cost of the disk, tape, or other medium used for the duplication. “Staff time” shall not exceed the average hourly rate of pay for staff of the governmental body. If programming is required beyond the “usual and customary” level to comply with a records request, the fees may include the actual cost of programming. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(2).

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3. Provisions for fee waivers

Records may be furnished at no charge or a reduced charge if the public governmental body determines such waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the public governmental body and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(1).

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4. Requirements or prohibitions regarding advance payment

Payment of fees for document search or duplication may be required by a public governmental body prior to the making of copies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.2.

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5. Have agencies imposed prohibitive fees to discourage requesters?

It has happened, but it violates the Sunshine Law.

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6. How are fees for electronic records determined?

The charge for all forms of electronic media includes only the cost of the copies and the staff time for making copies and programming, if necessary, and the cost of the disk, tape, or other medium used for the duplication. “Staff time” shall not exceed the average hourly rate of pay for staff of the governmental body. If programming is required beyond the “usual and customary” level to comply with a records request, the fees may include the actual cost of programming. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026.1(2).  See also, R.L. Polk & Co. v. Missouri Dept. of Revenue, 309 S.W.3d 811 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010) (the amount that can be charged for electronic records is not dependent on the number of records requested, but rather cannot exceed the actual cost to the governmental body of providing such records).

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E. Who enforces the act?

Any aggrieved person, any Missouri taxpayer or citizen, the Attorney General or prosecuting attorney may seek judicial enforcement of the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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1. Attorney General's role

The Attorney General takes a role in enforcing the Sunshine Law, including issuing opinions regarding the scope of the Law. The Attorney General is authorized to sue to enforce the Sunshine Law (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1), but the office rarely initiates litigation, although it may file a brief as amicus curiae.

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2. Availability of an ombudsman

There is no provision in the statute.

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3. Commission or agency enforcement

There is no provision in the statute.

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F. Are there sanctions for noncompliance?

The Sunshine Law provides for penalties of up to $1,000 for a body or member of a body found by a preponderance of the evidence to have violated the Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3. The fine increases to $5,000 for a purposeful violation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4 If the court finds a knowing or purposeful violation, the court may order the body or member to pay costs and attorney fees to a successful party. See Chasnoff v. Mokwa, 466 S.W.3d 571 (Mo. Ct. App. 2015) (allowing plaintiffs to recover attorneys’ fees when a police department knowingly failed to produce records of misconduct).  The court shall determine the size of the penalty by taking into account the size of the jurisdiction, the seriousness of the offense, and previous violations of the Sunshine Law by the defendant.

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G. Record-holder obligations

1. Processing records requests

There are no specific cases discussing the efforts that need to be made by public governmental bodies when searching, but the cases generally recognize a duty to search. See also 610.023.3.

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2. Proactive disclosure requirements

There are no cases on this point.

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3. Records retention requirements

The Sunshine Law does not contain retention requirements, but the Public Records Law, discussed in a separate section, does.

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The Sunshine Law expressly states that it is to be liberally construed to promote the policy of open government, and that exceptions are to be strictly construed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.011(1). See also, e.g., National Council for Teachers Quality, Inc. v. Curators of University of Missouri, 446 S.W.723 (Mo. Ct. App. 2014); Great Rivers Environmental Law Center v. City of St. Peters, 290 S.W.3d 732 (Mo.Ct.App. 2009) (exceptions are to be strictly construed); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 330 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (exceptions set forth in the Sunshine Law are to be narrowly construed); MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 537 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984) (exceptions in the Sunshine Law are to be narrowly construed). The Public Records Law enumerates no exceptions. Rather, disclosure is subject to “reasonable rules and conditions imposed by the proper authorities.” State ex rel. Gray v. Brigham, 622 S.W.2d 734, 735 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981). Therefore, this section deals with the Sunshine Law only.

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A. Exemptions in the open records statute

1. Character of exemptions

The exceptions to the rule of disclosure in the Sunshine Law are specifically enumerated. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021.

Generally, application of the exceptions enumerated in the Sunshine Law are discretionary. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022(4) (“nothing in sections 610.010 to 610.028 shall be construed as to require a public governmental body to hold a closed . . . record.”).

The exceptions enumerated in the Sunshine Law are not patterned after the federal statute. Moreover, even if a record might fall within an exception enumerated in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it is a public record subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law if it is subsequently retained by a public governmental body in Missouri. See Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services v. Allan, 787 S.W.2d 291, 294 (Mo.Ct.App. 1990) (draft report of Federal Department of Education, provided to and retained by State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is a public record subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law).  If a document falls equally under both a provision requiring disclosure and an exemption, it must be disclosed.  See Laut v. City of Arnold, 417 S.W.3d 315 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013) (holding that an investigative report equally between a public record and an exemption must be disclosed).

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2. Discussion of each exemption

a. Litigation.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(l).
Scope. The so-called “litigation” exception encompasses more than litigation.
• records relating to legal actions, causes of action, or litigation involving a public governmental body; and
• confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys; and
• legal work product. See Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351, 353-354 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (held settlement agreement between board of education and superintendent of school district was not a confidential or privileged communication between a public governmental body and its attorneys); but see Calvert v. Mehlville R-IX Sch. Dist., 44 S.W.3d 455 (Mo.Ct.App. 2001) (holding that school board must acknowledge existence of settlement agreement in response to a request, but pursuant to confidentiality clause in the agreement could refuse to disclose its contents); State ex rel. Moore v. Brewster, 116 S.W.3d 630 (Mo.Ct.App. 2003) (holding that letter from school board attorney concerning investigation of board members was legal work product and the trial court erred in finding that the board president violated the Sunshine Law by refusing to release a copy of the letter to the board members under investigation).
Mere reference to litigation is not sufficient to trigger this exception. See Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 330 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (litigation exception applies to analytical work product, but not to general descriptions of legal services rendered appearing on city attorneys’ itemized monthly billing statements). The exception only applies to actions brought by the public pursuant to the Sunshine Law, the privilege does not extend to actions independent of the Sunshine Law. See City of Grandview v. Missouri Gas Energy, 2012 WL 12897093 (W.D. Mo. 2012).
Exception Removed Upon Final Disposition of Litigation. Any minutes, vote or settlement agreement relating to legal actions, causes of action, or litigation involving a public governmental body or any agent or entity representing the public body’s interests or acting as its insured, shall be made public upon final disposition of the matter voted upon, or upon the signing by the parties of the settlement agreement, unless prior to final disposition, the settlement agreement is ordered closed by a court after a written finding that the adverse impact to a plaintiff or plaintiffs to the action clearly outweighs the public policy considerations enumerated in § 610.011. However, the amount of any monies paid by, or on behalf of, the public governmental body shall be disclosed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1), modifying the holding in Tuft v. City of St. Louis, 936 S.W.2d 113, 119 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996). Also, a public or quasi-public official does not have the same right of privacy as an ordinary citizen, and so cannot rely on such a right to oppose a request to unseal court records relating to the official’s compensation. Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Transit Casualty Co., 43 S.W.3d 293 (Mo. banc 2001) (in the context of a special deputy receiver appointed to oversee the liquidation of an insurance company).
Eminent Domain/Condemnation. When a public governmental body undertakes to exercise the power of eminent domain, the vote must be made public immediately following the action on the motion to authorize institution of a condemnation action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1).
b. Real Estate.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(2).
Scope. Government records relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body may be closed. Id. Such records, including minutes of closed meetings, may be closed even if no actual lease, purchase or sale of real estate results. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995).
Required Finding. Before a “real estate” record may be closed, the public governmental body must first find that public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration for that real estate. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(2); State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, supra.
Exception Removed Upon Completion of Transaction. Minutes of closed meetings, votes or other public records approving the contract relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body must be made public upon execution of the lease, purchase or sale of the real estate. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995) (city properly withheld minutes of closed council meetings where agreements to operate city-owned landfill were discussed with independent contractors until the agreements were finally approved); City of St. Louis v. City of Bridgeton, 806 S.W.2d 717, 719 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (held that the meaning of the term “transaction” in the real estate exception is broad enough to encompass multi-lot bulk real estate acquisition or buyout program by public governmental body, and contracts on individual lots need not be available for public inspection until buyout program is complete and knowledge of purchase prices on individual lots would not adversely affect subsequent contracts); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 331 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (mere reference in a public record to a real estate transaction is not sufficient to trigger application of the real estate exception; the exception applies only where the actual terms of any real estate transaction or a negotiating position of the public governmental body is reflected in the record); Spradlin v. City of Fulton, 982 S.W.2d 255, 259 (Mo. banc 1998) (to trigger the real estate exception 1) information must relate directly to the leasing, purchase, or sale of real estate by a public governmental body, and 2) public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal considerations thereof).
c. Employment.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).
Scope. Governmental records relating to hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting an employee of a governmental body may be closed, but only if “personal information” about the employee is discussed or recorded therein.
Personal Information About the Employee. The above records may be closed only if “personal information” about the employee is discussed or recorded therein. “Personal information” is defined to include information relating to the performance or merit of individual employees. Id.
See also, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13) (relating to personnel records), discussed below.
When Information May be Made Public. Any vote on a final decision made by a public governmental body, to hire, fire, promote or discipline one of its employees shall be made available to the public within 72 hours of the close of the meeting where such action occurs, provided, however, that the affected employee is entitled to prompt notice of the decision before such decision is made available to the public. See Draper v. City of Festus, No. 4:11-CV-1652-TCM, 2013 WL 5651380, at *31-32 (E.D. Mo. 2013) (Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment denied because plaintiff employee was notified of final employment decision after the public was notified).
Particular cases related to public employee matters: See Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (pension payments made to former state employees must be disclosed); Paskon v. Salem Memorial Hospital District, 806 S.W.2d 417, 423-424 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (board of directors of hospital district could conduct closed meeting to discuss suspension of physician’s hospital staff privileges); Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (held records reflecting severance pay paid to former superintendent of public school district are public records subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 331 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (mere identification of personnel matters within a description of legal services rendered on a city attorney’s itemized monthly billing statement is not sufficient to place the statement within the employment exception); Hudson v. School District of Kansas City, 578 S.W.2d 301, 309 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (meeting in which school board decided to furlough several hundred probationary teachers and reassign a large number of administrative employees did not fall within the employment exception because the motivation behind the furloughs was financial. The Board was attempting to solve a huge budget deficit and the individual employees affected were not discussed); Chasnoff v. Mokwa, 466 S.W.3d 571, 585 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015) (Court held that 610.021(3) was an optional exception to Sunshine disclosures; so long as Board of Police Commissioners sought to release the information, police officers could not use 610.021(3) to intervene and prevent release of public records regarding misconduct in performance of official duties).
d. State Militia or National Guard.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(4). Records relating to the state militia or National Guard may be closed.
e. Non-Judicial Mental Health or Physical Health Proceedings.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(5). Records relating to non-judicial mental or physical health proceedings involving identifiable persons, including medical, psychiatric, psychological, or alcoholism or drug dependency diagnosis or treatment may be closed.
f. Scholastic Records.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(6). Government records relating to scholastic probation, expulsion or graduation of identifiable individuals, including records of individual test or examination scores, may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(6). However, personally identifiable student records maintained by public educational institutions are open for inspection by the parents, guardian or other custodian of a student under the age of 18 years and by the parents, guardian or other custodian and the student if the student is over the age of 18 years.
g. Testing or Examination Materials.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(7). Testing and examination materials, before the test or examination is given or, if it is to be given again, before so given again, may be closed.
h. Welfare.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(8). Government records relating to welfare cases of identifiable individuals may be closed.
i. Public Employee Negotiations.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(9). Government records relating to preparation, including any discussions or work product, on behalf of a public governmental body or its representatives for negotiations with employee groups may be closed. See State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (collective bargaining sessions of city board of public utilities not required to be open to the public).
j. Computer Programs.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(10). Software codes for electronic data processing and documentation thereof may be closed.
k. Specifications for Competitive Bidding.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(11). Specifications for competitive bidding, until either the specifications are officially approved by the public governmental body or the specifications are published for bid may be closed. See Hanten v. School Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 810-811 (conclusion that school board members meeting privately did not intend to violate the Sunshine Law was supported by § 611.021(11) of the Sunshine Law, which permitted them to meet in closed session to discuss bid specifications).
l. Sealed Bids.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(12). Sealed bids and related documents, until the earlier of either when the bids are opened, or all bids are accepted or all bids are rejected, may be closed.
m. Personnel Records.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13). Individually identifiable personnel records, performance ratings or records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment may be closed, including the names of private sources contributing to the salary of a chancellor or president at all public colleges and universities in Missouri, together with the amount of money contributed. See Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477, 481-83 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (pension payments made to former state employees are encompassed in “salaries” and must be disclosed); Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (records reflecting severance pay paid to former superintendent of public school district are public records subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law); There is likely to be some overlap between this section and the employment exception in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).
n. Records Protected From Disclosure by Law.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(14). See more detailed discussion in section II.B., below.
o. Scientific or Technological Innovations.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(15). Records relating to scientific and technological innovations in which the owner has a proprietary interest may be closed.
p. Abuse Hotlines.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(16). Records related to municipal hotlines established for the reporting of abuse and wrongdoing may be closed.
q. Auditor Records.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(17). Confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body and its auditor, including all auditor work product, may be closed. Final audit reports, however, are considered open records.
r. Anti-terrorism Records.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(18); Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(19). Operational guidelines, policies and specific response plans developed, adopted or maintained by any public agency responsible for law enforcement, public safety, first response, or public health for use in responding to any critical incident which is or appears to be terrorist in nature and has the potential to endanger individual public safety or health. This exception does not close information relating to contracts and expenditures made in implementing these guidelines and policies. An agency seeking to use this exception must state in writing that disclosure would impair its ability to protect health or safety of persons and must further state in writing that the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(18).
Records relating to existing or proposed security systems and structural plans or real property owned or released by a public governmental body may be a closed record, however, records related to the procurement of security systems purchased with public funds shall be open.. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(19).
s. Security System Access Codes.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(20). The portions of a record that identifies security systems or access codes or authorization codes for security systems of real property may be closed.
t. Computer System Information.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(21). Records identifying the configuration of components or the operation of a computer, computer system, computer or telecommunications network of a public governmental body that would allow unauthorized access to or disruption of same may be closed; however, procurement information, including moneys paid, shall be open, and this provision cannot be used to limit or deny access to public records in a file or database.
u. Credit Card Numbers.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(22). Credit card and PIN numbers, access or authorization codes that are used to protect the security of electronic transactions between a public governmental body and a person or entity doing business with that body. This section does not include credit card usage information for a card held by a public governmental body.
v. Intellectual Property Licensing Information.
Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(23). Records submitted by an individual, corporation, or other business entity to a public institution of higher education in connection with a proposal to license intellectual property or perform sponsored research and which contains sales projections or other business plan information the disclosure of which may endanger the competitiveness of a business may be closed.
w. Social Security Numbers.
Mo.Rev.Stat § 610.035. No state entity shall disclose any Social Security number unless 1) such disclosure is permitted by federal law, federal regulation or state law; 2) unless such disclosure is authorized by the holder of the Social Security number; and 3) unless such disclosure is for use in connection with any civil, criminal, administrative or arbitration proceeding in any federal, state, or local court or agency or arbitration proceeding in any federal, state, or local court or agency or before any self-regulatory body, including the service of process, investigation in anticipation of litigation and the execution of enforcement of judgments and orders, or pursuant to an order of federal, state, or local court.

Compare

B. Other statutory exclusions

“Records which are protected from disclosure by law” may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(14). See Oregon County R-IV School District v. Le Mon, 739 SW.2d 553, 557 (Mo.Ct.App. 1987) (language in the Sunshine Law “except as otherwise provided by law” means except as otherwise provided by statute); Pulitzer Publishing Company v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477, 480 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (a regulation promulgated pursuant to an agency’s general rulemaking authority is not within the “except as otherwise provided by law” exception to the Sunshine Law); Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services v. Allan, 787 SW.2d 291, 292 (Mo.Ct.App. 1990) (a record exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S. § 552 et seq., is not exempt from the Missouri Sunshine Law unless a specific state statute expressly so provides). Missouri statutes regulate access to the types of records listed below. We identified statutes that fall within the “catch-all” exception. While an attempt was made to be comprehensive, there may be other statutes governing access to particular records not addressed here.

  1. Agricultural Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 196.560: State Dairy Board. The Missouri Dairy Law requires that persons who purchase and sell milk for processing and manufacturing must maintain records containing certain information for at least one year. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 196.560. Those records must be made available to the State Milk Board. Id. However, individual items or totals of an individual person or plant are to remain confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 276.551: Department of Agriculture Records Relating to Grain Dealers. Records of the Missouri Department of Agriculture relating to grain dealers containing information obtained pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 276.401 to .582, are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 276.551.2. Aggregate information or data contained in applications, reports or inspections may be released only if it does not identify the grain dealer to which the information applies. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 277.120: Livestock Records of State Veterinarian. The State Veterinarian is authorized to inspect the records of any livestock sales or market licensee to determine the origin and destination of any livestock, or to determine if requirements of the Missouri Livestock Marketing Law have been violated. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 277.120. Any documents acquired by the State Veterinarian that reveal the financial condition of a licensee are confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 411.180: Grain Warehouse Examinations, Audits, or Inspections. The Director of Agriculture is authorized by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 411.180 to examine or inspect grain warehouses and grain warehouse businesses as they relate to public storage. The information obtained by the Missouri Department of Agriculture in the course of such examinations, audits or inspections is confidential. Id.

  1. Children and Youth Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.737: Referrals of Children Who May Have Been Exposed to Controlled Substances or Alcohol. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.737 authorizes physicians or other health care providers to refer children who may have been exposed to certain controlled substances or alcohol to the Department of Health, and provides that records of such referrals are to be confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.150: Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect. Reports of child abuse or neglect received by the Missouri Division of Family Services shall not be released to any individual or institution, except appropriate law enforcement officials, but shall be treated as confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.150.2. Information relating to child abuse or neglect may be disseminated to certain classes of persons. Such information may be disclosed to any person engaged in a bona fide research purpose, with the permission of the director, provided that no information identifying the subjects of the reports and the reporters shall be made available to the researcher. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.150.5. In addition, such information may be disclosed to any person who inquires about a child abuse or neglect report involving a specific day care home, day care center, child placing agency, residential care facility, private and public elementary schools, juvenile court or other state agency. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.150.2(a). The information available to these persons is limited to the nature and disposition of any substantial report and does not include any identifying information pertaining to any person mentioned in the report. Id. A court of appeals held that the Missouri Department of Social Services (“DSS”) is not a “law enforcement agency,” and, therefore, the release of DSS reports and records is not governed by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100, but rather by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.150. Scroggins v. Missouri Department of Social Services, 277 S.W.3d 498, 502-503 (Mo.Ct.App. 2007).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.152: Administrative Review of Finding of Abuse or Neglect. Any person named in an investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect may seek administrative review of such a finding. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.152. Such a review hearing is to be closed to the public. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321: Juvenile Court Records. Records of Juvenile Court proceedings are generally closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321. Such records may only be opened by order of the Juvenile Court, to persons having a “legitimate interest” in the records. Id. Information and data may be released to persons or organizations “authorized by law” to compile statistics relating to juveniles. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.4. However, the Juvenile Court is required to adopt procedures to protect the confidentiality of the identities of children. Id. In addition, certain general information about the informal adjustment or formal adjudication of a child’s case may be revealed to the family of the victim. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.6.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321: Juvenile Records Pertaining to Offense Which Would be a Felony if Committed by an Adult. If a child of at least twelve years of age is charged with an offense that would be Class A felony if committed by an adult, or with capital murder, first degree murder or second degree murder, the child may be certified for trial as an adult. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.1. The statute is unclear as to whether the certification hearing itself is open to the public, and the practice varies among jurisdictions within the State. If a child is certified for trial as an adult, certain records that otherwise would be closed become open to the same extent as criminal records of an adult. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.1. Even if a child charged with a felony is not certified for trial as an adult, if he or she is adjudicated “delinquent” for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, the records of the dispositional hearing and related proceedings become open to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321. However, the social summaries, investigations, and status reports submitted to the court or any treating agency are to remain closed. Id. In addition, under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.171.6, “the hearing” shall be open to the public in cases in which the juvenile is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be considered a class A or B felony; or which would be a class C felony if the juvenile has previously been adjudicated for committing two unrelated acts that would be class A, B or C felonies.  See also State ex rel. St. Louis Post-Dispatch v. Garvey, 179 S.W.3d 899, 901 (Mo. banc 2005) (this section applies to the adjudicatory hearing).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 219.061: Missouri Division of Youth Services Records. Records relating to any child committed to the Division of Youth Services of the Missouri Department of Social Services are closed, except to parents or guardians, or if parents or guardians are out of the state, to the nearest immediate relative of the child. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 219.061.

  1. Corporate and Financial Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 30.600: Business and Financial Records Submitted to State Treasurer. Any records or documents submitted to the Missouri State Treasurer relating to financial investments in a business, sales figures or projections or other business results or business plan information, the disclosure of which may have a negative impact on the competitiveness of the business, shall be deemed a closed record.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 32.057.1: Tax Returns and Department of Revenue Records. Tax returns and Department of Revenue reports, containing information received by the Department of Revenue in connection with the administration of tax laws are made confidential by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 32.057.1, and can only be disclosed under certain circumstances enumerated in § 32.057.2. (For example, disclosure is not prohibited of information regarding the claiming of a state tax credit by a member of the General Assembly or any state-wide elected official.)

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 348.181: Information Submitted to the Missouri Agricultural and the Small Business Development Authority. Records and documents submitted by program applicants and lenders to the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority relating to financial investments in a business or sales projections or processes or other business plan information which if released or otherwise made public may endanger the competitiveness of a business, or records or documents submitted to the authority related to financial assistance that is awarded by the Authority is a closed record, and may be discussed in a closed meeting. However, the amount and recipient of any loan or grant from a program administered by the Authority is subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 351.665: Information Obtained by the Secretary of State or Supervisor of Corporation Registration in Examining Corporate Books and Records. Generally, confidential corporate information obtained by the Secretary of State or the Supervisor of Corporation Registration is obtained during the course of examining the books and records of any corporation is to be kept confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 351.665. Confidential information includes information relating to private accounts, affairs and transactions, and financial information of assets and liabilities. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 347.183 and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 359.681: Information Obtained by the Secretary of State in Examining the Books and Records of Limited Liability Companies and Limited Partnerships. Generally, the Missouri Secretary of State must keep confidential all facts obtained in the examination of the books and records of any limited liability company, or through the voluntary sworn statement of any manager, member, agent, or employee of any limited liability company. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 347.183. The Missouri Secretary of State may disclose such information “insofar as official duty may require disclosure.” Id. All similar information obtained by the Missouri Secretary of State when examining the books of limited partnership is to be kept confidential, and may only be disclosed “insofar as official duty may require.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 359.681.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 361.080: Information Obtained From Financial Institutions by the Director of Finance. Information obtained from financial institutions (banks, trust companies, small loan businesses) by the Missouri Director of Finance in the course of examinations is generally deemed confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 369.099: Account Holders, Borrowers, and Stockholders of Savings & Loans. The books and records of Savings and Loan Associations pertaining to accounts and loans of account holders, borrowers and stockholders, are to be held confidential by the Director of the Division of Finance, examiners and other State representatives pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 369.099.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 369.294: Information Obtained From Savings & Loans by the Director of Finance. Information obtained from savings and loan associations obtained by examiners of the Division of Finance and Examiners is generally confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 409.830: Information Retained by Commissioner of Securities. Generally, all information retained by the Missouri Commissioner of Securities is public information and must be available for examination by the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 409.830. However, information obtained in the course of private investigations by the Commissioner of Securities may be closed to the public. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.014: Records Submitted to State or Regional Agencies Relating to Financial Investments in a Business, Sales Projections or Other Business Plan Information, or Relating to Tax Credits. Records submitted to the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Economic Development, Export and Infrastructure Board or to a Regional Planning Commission relating to financial investments in a business, sales projections or other business plan information, are closed under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.014. Records relating to tax credits are also closed, except for the identities of the businesses receiving tax credits and the amount of tax credits awarded. Id.

  1. Department of Health Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.450: Data Relating to Sources of Radiation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.450 authorizes the Department of Health to investigate possible sources of radiation. Data obtained by the Department as a result of such investigations is deemed confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.505 requires that the Department of Health maintain a statistical database for analyzing information relating to sources of radiation, and a list of persons authorized to use, possess, store, treat or transfer sources of radiation. Generally, that information is to be made available to the public.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.655: Data Relating to Cancer. The Missouri Department of Health is required to maintain a cancer information reporting system for the purpose of conducting epidemiological surveys of cancer and related diseases. The identity of the patient, physician and hospital involved in reports made is deemed confidential by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.655.

Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 192.739 and 199.033: Reports of Head and Spinal Cord Injuries. The Missouri Department of Health maintains an information registry and reporting system to collect data pertaining to head and spinal cord injuries in the State. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.739 provides that such reports are confidential, and may only be made available to certain enumerated persons, including those engaged in a “bona fide research project.”

Records of the Division of injury prevention, head injury rehabilitation and local health services of the Department of Health, or patient records of rehabilitation facilities funded by the Department, are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 199.033. Such records may only be released to certain agencies or persons enumerated in the statute. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 195.042: Registration of Manufacturers, Distributors, or Dispensers of Controlled Substances. All complaints, investigatory reports, and information pending to any applicant, registrant, or individual regarding the registration by the Missouri Department of Health to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or conduct research with controlled substances is confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 197.260: Reports on Individual Hospices. The Missouri Department of Health is required to prepare reports on individual hospices and whether they comply with certain statutory or regulatory requirements. Interim reports identifying deficiencies are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 197.260. Final reports of inspections or surveys showing the standards and whether or not they were met, may be released to the public. Id. All other information is to remain confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 197.477: Inspections of Trauma Centers, Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgical Centers, and Home Health Agencies. The Missouri Department of Health inspects and evaluates health facilities and agencies, including trauma centers (§§ 190.235 to .249); hospitals (§§ 197.010 to .120); ambulatory surgical centers (§§ 197.200 to .240); and home health agencies (§§ 197.400 to .475). The Department is authorized by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 197.477 to disclose reports of the inspections showing the standards by which the inspections were conducted and whether those standards were met, and if not met, the manner in which the standards were not met and how the facility proposes to correct any deficiencies. All other information relating to such inspections or evaluations is deemed confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.194: Records of Missouri Child Fatality Review Panels. The prosecuting attorney or the circuit attorney shall impanel a child fatality review panel to investigate deaths of children under 18 years of age. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.192. The Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services, in consultation with the Director of the Missouri Department of Health, promulgates rules, guidelines, and protocols for the child fatality review panel. Id. All meetings conducted by and all reports and records made and maintained by the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Missouri Department of Health in conjunction with child fatality review panels are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.194.

  1. Department of Insurance Records

Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 374.070: Work Product and Confidential Communications. Mo.Rev.Stat. 374.070 generally provides that records of the Missouri Department of Insurance and of the Director are to be open to the public. However, the statute also provides that “work product” of the Director or employees of the Department of Insurance, including work papers of examinations or investigations of insurance companies, agents, brokers and others are not “public records” until the matter to which the work papers are related becomes final. Id. In addition, the statute provides that “confidential communications” to the Director are not “public records.” Id. The statute itself does not define what constitutes “confidential communications” to the Director. Id. However, certain regulations promulgated by the Missouri Department of Insurance purport to bestow unlimited discretion on the Director to determine what is a “confidential communication.” See 20 C.S.R. 10-2.400. See Golden Rule Insurance Company v. Crist, 766 S.W.2d 637, 639 (Mo. banc 1989) (Director of Division of Insurance’s decision to make certain market conduct reports public not an abuse of discretion). In addition, a Missouri Department of Insurance regulation provides that the Department will notify any person or entity that has submitted information to the Department or the Director stamped “confidential” when there is a request for public access to that information and that such information may be withdrawn. See 20 C.S.R. 10-2.400.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 374.205: Missouri Department of Insurance Examinations. All working papers, recorded information, and documents produced by, obtained by, or disclosed to the Department of Insurance in the course of examination of insurance companies are confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 374.405 and 374.455: Zip Code Data Base Relating to Homeowners and Automobile Insurance. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 374.405 and 374.455 require that insurance companies that issue homeowners or automobile insurance policies in Missouri submit certain premium and loss data to the Missouri Department of Insurance annually. This data constitutes a “public record.” But see American Family Mutual Ins. Co. v. Legal Aid of Western Missouri, 169 S.W.3d 905 (Mo.Ct.App. 2005) (zip code level written premium data submitted by insurance companies to the Department of Insurance is a trade secret and the courts are empowered to enjoin its disclosure under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 417.455, which gives courts the power to protect misappropriation of trade secrets).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.022: Insurance Agents. Information relating to the appointment of agents of insurance agencies is confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.022 (1994).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.1160: Administrative Suspension of Insurance Companies. The Department of Insurance may place an insurance company under administrative supervision for any reason set out in the statute. All proceedings, hearings, notices, orders, correspondence, reports, records, or information in possession of the Missouri Department of Insurance relating to any insurer are confidential except in the few situations enumerated in the statute. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.1267: Risk Based Capital (RBC) Reports. Risk Based Capital (RBC) Reports are comprehensive financial plans that insurance companies are required to submit annually to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Missouri Department of Insurance annually (on or before March 15). RBC Reports are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.1267.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 376.1082: Trade Secrets Contained in Life, Health, and Accident Insurance Companies’ Books and Records. The Director of Insurance has access for purposes of examination to the books and records of insurance companies that issue life, health, or accident insurance in Missouri. Any trade secrets reflected in those books and records, including the identity and addresses of policy holders and certificate holders, are confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 382.230: Insurance Holding Company Records. Information obtained by the Missouri Department of Insurance from insurance holding companies in the course of investigations or examinations by the Department is confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 382.230, and cannot be released to the public without the consent of the insurance holding company.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.062: Reports of Real Estate Malpractice. Insurance companies that issue policies for real estate malpractice insurance in Missouri must submit an annual report to the Missouri Department of Insurance containing information on all claims for real estate malpractice made against their insureds. Those annual reports are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.062, and are not discoverable in any proceeding pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.069.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.077: Reports of Attorney or Legal Malpractice. Insurance companies that issue policies for attorney malpractice insurance in Missouri must submit an annual report to the Missouri Department of Insurance containing information on all claims for malpractice made against their insureds. Those annual reports are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.077, and are not discoverable in any proceeding pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.083.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.077: Reports of Medical Malpractice. Insurance companies that issue policies for health care provider malpractice insurance in Missouri must submit an annual report to the Missouri Department of Insurance containing information on all claims for malpractice made against their insureds. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.105. Those annual reports are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 383.115.

  1. Department of Social Services Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 189.085: Aid to Local Government Health Facilities. Department of Social Services records and information relating to aid to local government health facilities are to be disclosed only for purposes directly connected with the administration of the health services program. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 189.085. In particular, records concerning applicants and recipients of health services are deemed confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.194: Records of Missouri Child Fatality Review Panels. The prosecuting attorney or the circuit attorney shall impanel a child fatality review panel to investigate deaths of children under 18 years of age. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.192. The Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services, in consultation with the Director of the Missouri Department of Health, promulgates rules, guidelines, and protocols for the child fatality review panel. Id. All meetings conducted by and all reports and records made and maintained by the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Missouri Department of Health in conjunction with child fatality review panels are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.194.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.263: Protective Services for Adults. Reports of allegations or suspicions of adult abuse or that an adult is suffering or is likely to suffer serious physical harm, and related investigation records, are closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.263. That information may only be revealed to persons or agencies identified in the statute.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.300: Reports of Abuse or Neglect of Persons Receiving In-Home Services. Missouri Department of Social Services records relating to reports of abuse or neglect of persons receiving in-home services are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.300. See also Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.320.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.305: Reports of Misappropriation of Property Belonging to Persons Receiving In-Home Services. Missouri Department of Social Services records relating to reports of misappropriation of property belonging to persons receiving in-home services are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.305. See also Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.320.

  1. Environment and Energy Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 256.615.3: Department of Natural Resources Records Identifying an Oil or Gas Test Hole or Monitoring Well. Any information obtained by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that identifies an oil or gas test hole or monitoring well is to remain confidential for a period of at least ten years pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 256.615.3.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 260.430: Hazardous Waste Management Commission. Information obtained by the Missouri Hazardous Waste Commission relating to disposition of hazardous wastes is generally open to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 260.430. However, if the Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources determines that such information constitutes trade secrets or is otherwise entitled to confidential treatment, the information or records may be closed to the public.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 260.550: Cleanup of Abandoned or Uncontrolled Sites Containing Hazardous Substances. Generally, records of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Records pertaining to the cleanup of abandoned or uncontrolled sites containing hazardous substances are to be open to the public pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 260.550. However, the statute authorizes the closure of such records upon request, if the records contain trade secrets or other information “entitled to confidential treatment.” Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 319.117: Underground Storage Tanks. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires that any owner or operator of an underground storage tank furnish the Department with information relating to the tanks. Generally, records containing that information are to be made available to the public. Id. However, if a person demonstrates to the Department that public disclosure of such records would divulge commercial or financial information entitled to protection under state law, the Department will deem the records confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 414.530.3: Missouri Propane Education and Research Council. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 414.530 authorizes the Director of the Division of Energy of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to conduct a referendum to elect members of the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council. Producers and marketers of propane are to elect the members of the Council. Id. Their votes are weighted in accordance with the amount of propane produced or marketed. Id. Reports and documentation of the referendum process, and information provided by industry members relating to propane produced and marketed, are confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 444.820: Surface Coal Permit Applications. Information provided to the Land Reclamation Commission with an application for surface coal mining which pertains to the analysis of the chemical properties of the coal (excepting information regarding mineral elemental content which is potentially toxic in the environment) is confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 444.825.2: Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Plans. Any information required to be submitted in reclamation plans not already on public file is to be held in confidence by the Land Reclamation Commission.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 444.845.2: Coal Exploration Permits. Information submitted to the Land Reclamation Commission in connection with permits for coal exploration may be withheld from the public if it contains trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 640.155: Energy Information Reported to Department of Natural Resources. Energy information voluntarily reported or conveyed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is deemed confidential for a specific period of time determined by mutual consent of the Department and the person or entity providing the information pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 640.155.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 643.040: Secret Processes or Methods of Manufacture Revealed to the Air Conservation Commission. Any information acquired by the Air Conservation Commission relating to secret processes or methods of manufacture is confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 643.040.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 643.075(7)(2): Information Submitted to the Air Conservation Commission. The Missouri Air Conservation Commission may exempt any person from the payment of hourly fees incurred for a construction application upon an appeal filed by such person stating that the fee will create an unreasonable economic hardship on such person. The Commission may conduct a closed meeting and have closed records for the purpose of gathering information from the person filing the appeal of exemption.

  1. Judicial Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321: Juvenile Court Records. Records of Juvenile Court proceedings are generally closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321. Such records may only be opened by order of the Juvenile Court, to persons having a “legitimate interest” in the records. Id. Information and data may be released to persons or organizations “authorized by law” to compile statistics relating to juveniles. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.4. However, the Juvenile Court is required to adopt procedures to protect the confidentiality of the identities of children. Id. In addition, certain general information about the informal adjustment or formal adjudication of a child’s case may be revealed to the family of the victim. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.6.

Juvenile Records Pertaining to Offense Which Would be a Felony if Committed by an Adult. If a child of at least twelve years of age is charged with an offense that would be Class A felony if committed by an adult, or with capital murder, first degree murder or second degree murder, the child may be certified for trial as an adult. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.1. The statute is unclear whether the certification hearing itself is open to the public, and the practice varies among jurisdictions within the State. If a child is certified for trial as an adult, certain records that otherwise would be closed become open to the same extent as criminal records of an adult. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321.1. Even if a child charged with a felony is not certified for trial as an adult, if he or she is adjudicated “delinquent” for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, the records of the dispositional hearing and related proceedings become open to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.321. However, the social summaries, investigations, and status reports submitted to the court or any treating agency are to remain closed. Id. In addition, under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 211.171.6, “the hearing” shall be open to the public in cases in which the juvenile is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be considered a class A or B felony; or which would be a class C felony if the juvenile has previously been adjudicated for committing two unrelated acts that would be class A, B or C felonies.  See also State ex rel. St. Louis Post-Dispatch v. Garvey, 179 S.W.3d 899, 901 (Mo. banc 2005) (this section applies to the adjudicatory hearing).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 453.121: Adoption Records. Adoption records are generally closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 453.121.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 487.005: Substance Abuse Treatment Information Provided to Drug Courts. Circuit Courts in Missouri may establish drug courts to provide an alternative for the judicial system to dispose of cases which stem from drug use. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 478.061. All records provided to a drug courts by any state or local government agency relevant to the treatment of any program participant are confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 487.070: Family Court Proceedings. Family court proceedings may be closed to the public as directed by a family court judge pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 487.070.

Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 552.020.6 and 552.030: Reports of Court-Ordered Psychiatric Examinations of Criminal Defendants. Reports of court-ordered psychiatric examinations of persons accused of a crime are closed to the public pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 552.020.6 and 552.030.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 595.037: Claims by Crime Victims for Compensation. Victims of crimes may seek compensation from the Division of Workers Compensation of the Department of Public Safety. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 595.010-.070. Such claims are generally open to the public pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 595.037. Such claims may be closed to the public if the alleged assailant has not been apprehended or brought to trial, if the offense perpetrated against the victim is rape, sodomy or sexual abuse, or if the victim is a minor. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 600.091: State Public Defenders’ Records. Files maintained by the State Public Defenders relating to the handling of any criminal cases are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 600.091.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.105: Criminal Records Relating to Charges That Are Nolle Prossed or Dismissed, or to Persons Who Are Found Not Guilty or Receive a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (“SIS”). If criminal charges are nolle prossed or dismissed, or if the person charged is found not guilty or receives a suspended imposition of sentence (“SIS”), all records pertaining to the criminal proceedings are deemed closed records pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.105 “when such case is finally terminated.” See also State ex rel. Pulitzer Missouri Newspapers, Inc. v. Seay, 330 S.W.3d 823, 827 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011) (if imposition of sentence is suspended and probation is ordered, the case is not terminated until successful completion of probation).

  1. Law Enforcement Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.004: Law Enforcement Reports of Custody of Children. All law enforcement agencies shall maintain a record of the date and time a child less than 17 years of age is taken into custody for any reason and the date and time that child is released from custody. These records are confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 217.075: Missouri Department of Corrections Reports. Records pertaining to individual personal medical histories and internal administrative reports or documents relating to institutional security are closed records. Reports of abuse of inmates by Department of Corrections employees, and of related investigations, are closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 217.410.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 217.670: Probation and Parole Board Records. Any meeting, record or vote, of proceedings involving probation, parole or pardon may be a closed meeting, closed record or closed vote.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 252.225: Investigations of Violations of Missouri Wildlife and Forestry Law. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a hotline for reports of violations of the Missouri Wildlife and Forestry Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 252.010 et seq. Such reports and records of related investigations are confidential under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 252.225, and may only be released to certain enumerated persons, including persons engaged in a “bona fide research purpose” with the permission of the Director of the Department. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 300.125: Accident Reports. All written reports made by persons involved in accidents or by garage mechanics are for the confidential use of the police department or other governmental agencies having use for the records for accident prevention purposes. However, such accident reports may be made available to members of the public by the police department or other governmental agency where the identity of a person involved in an accident is not otherwise known or such person denies his presence at such action. Id. But see Op. Att’y Gen. No. 102-91 (April 8, 1991) (“investigative records of law enforcement agencies come within the definition of public records,” and as such must be disclosed to the public, unless closure is otherwise required).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 320.085: Fire Insurance Company Records Obtained to Investigate Arson. Fire insurance companies are required to produce records upon request to the State Fire Marshal or other public agencies or authorities who investigate the crime of arson. The information or records obtained are closed records pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 320.085.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 320.235: Investigation Records of the State Fire Marshal. The State Fire Marshal, in his discretion, may withhold from the public statements and testimony taken in an investigation or examination, correspondence relating to an investigation or examination, confidential reports of private persons and agents, and reports of investigations of fire losses. Such records are available only to the prosecutor of the county in which the fire loss occurred. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 367.055: Information Provided to Law Enforcement Officials by Pawnbrokers. Pawnbrokers, pursuant to local ordinance, may be required to furnish local law enforcement agencies with copies of certain transaction information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 367.031. All such information is confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 367.055.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 590.180: Information Relating to Peace Officers. The name, licensure status, commissioning, and employment of a peace officer is an open record. All other information is confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 549.500: Pre-Parole Report and Supervision History. Pre-parole reports and supervision histories of inmates in state correctional and penal institutions are privileged and are not to be disclosed except to the parole board, and at the discretion of the board, the defendant or prisoner or his attorney, or other person having a proper interest in the report (i.e., whenever the best interest or welfare of a defendant or prisoner makes the action desirable or helpful).

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100: Arrest Reports, Incident Reports, Investigative Reports and Daily Logs of Law Enforcement Agencies. The Arrest Record Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.100 et seq. was amended in 1995 to distinguish between arrest, incident and investigation reports of law enforcement agencies.

Definitions. “Arrest reports” are records of an arrest and of any detention or confinement incident to an arrest. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(2). An “arrest” is defined as the actual restraint of the person of the defendant, or by his or her submission to custody, under authority of a warrant or otherwise for a criminal violation which results in the issuance of the summons or the person being booked. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.160.1(1). “Incident reports” consist of immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or incident, including any logs of reported crimes, accidents and complaints maintained by the law enforcement agency. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(4); State ex rel. Goodman v. St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, 181 S.W.3d 156 (Mo.Ct.App. 2005) (only the information specifically delineated in § 610.100.1(a) is considered an open “Incident Report” under 610.100.2). “Investigative reports” are reports other than arrest reports or incident reports that are prepared by a law enforcement agency inquiring into a crime or suspected crime, either in response to an incident report or to evidence developed by law enforcement officers in the course of their duties. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(5).

Access. All arrest reports and incident reports are public records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.2. However, if a person who is arrested is not charged with an offense within thirty days, official records of the arrest and of any confinement incidental to that arrest become closed records. Id. If a person who is arrested and charged, but the charge is later nolle prossed or dismissed, or the person is either found not guilty or received a suspended imposition of his sentence (“SIS”), records of the arrest and the criminal proceedings become closed records pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.105 “when such case is finally terminated.” See also State ex rel. Pulitzer Missouri Newspapers, Inc. v. Seay, 330 S.W.3d 823, 827 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011) (if imposition of sentence is suspended and probation is ordered, the case is not terminated until successful completion of probation).

Investigation reports are closed records until the investigation becomes “inactive.”  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.2(2).  The term “inactive” is defined to include a decision by a law enforcement agency not to pursue a case, the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, or the finality of convictions and exhaustion of all appeals. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(3). See also The News-Press & Gazette Co. v. Cathcart, 974 S.W.2d 576, 579-80 (Mo.Ct.App. 1998) (“investigative reports” exemption may apply until prosecution of the alleged offender is completed).

Law enforcement agencies are afforded discretion to withhold arrest, incident, or other reports or records if they contain information that is “reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer or other person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.3. Law enforcement agencies may also withhold otherwise public records if disclosure would “jeopardize a criminal investigation”, or would disclose the identity of a source wishing to remain confidential or of a suspect not in custody. Id. See State ex rel. DeGaffenreid v. Keet, 619 S.W.2d 873 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981) (held a “summons” does not constitute an arrest, and that § 610.105 does not shield such records); Charlier v. Corum, 794 S.W.2d 676 (Mo.Ct.App. 1990) (inmate records retained by sheriff are public records subject to disclosure); News-Press & Gazette Co., supra, at 579-80 (Medical Examiner’s office is a “law enforcement agency” and autopsy records are public records).  But see The News-Press & Gazette Co. v. Cathcart, 974 S.W.2d 576, 579-80 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998) (holding that fire district personnel were not a law enforcement agency for the purposes of the Sunshine Law because they did not “seize evidence, or fully investigate seized evidence).

Any person, including a legal guardian or parent of such person if he or she is a minor, attorney for a person, or insurer of a person involved in any incident or whose property is involved in any incident may obtain any closed 911, arrest, incident or investigation records for the purpose of investigation of any civil claim or defense. Upon written request, any individual involved in an incident, or whose property was involved in an incident, his attorney or insurer, may obtain a complete, unaltered, and unedited incident report concerning the incident, and may obtain arrest and investigative reports which are closed. Within 30 days of such a request, the agency shall provide the requested material or file a motion with the circuit court having jurisdiction over the law enforcement agency stating the safety of the victim, witness or other individual cannot be reasonably ensured, or that the criminal investigation is likely to be jeopardized. If, based on such motion, the court finds for the law enforcement agency, the court shall either have the record closed or order such portion of the record that should be closed to be redacted. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.4.

Lawsuits Seeking Access to Information in Investigative Reports. The Arrest Records Law authorizes any person to file a lawsuit in circuit court seeking disclosure of information contained in an investigative report which would otherwise be a closed record. The circuit court may examine the investigation report in camera and is to consider whether the benefit to the person bringing the action outweighs any harm to the public, the law enforcement agency or officers, or any person identified in the investigative report. The court may order the person filing the lawsuit to pay the costs and attorneys fees of both parties, and may impose a fine of up to $1,000 for knowing violations and $5,000 for purposeful violations. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.5.

Daily Logs. Local law enforcement agencies that maintain a daily log or record that lists suspected crimes, accidents, or complaints are required to make certain limited information available to the public, including the time, substance and location of all complaints or requests for assistance, the time and nature of the agency’s response, information relating to the underlying occurrence, the identity of certain victims, and a general description of the injuries, property or weapons involved. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.200.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.150: “911” Reports. Information acquired by a law enforcement agency via “911” telephone reports are not available to the public pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.150.

  1. Medical Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 167.183: Immunization Records. Immunization records may only be disclosed to certain persons enumerated in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 167.183, e.g., public agencies, schools, health care professionals. Disclosure of such records to other persons is prohibited and the person disclosing the information is liable for civil damages. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656: HIV Testing. Any information or records containing a person’s HIV infection status or the results of any individual’s HIV testing are confidential, and may be disclosed only to certain persons designated in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656 (e.g., certain public agencies, adoptive or foster parents, day care facilities, group homes). The statute authorizes civil actions for violation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.686 authorizes the Department of Health to identify children who test positive for HIV to schools that adopted a policy consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. Such schools may in turn release that information to certain persons who “need to know” the child’s identity in order to provide proper health care.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.731: Pregnant Women Referred to the Department of Health for Substance Abuse Treatment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.731 provides that records and reports pertaining to women referred to the Department of Health for substance abuse treatment shall be confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.743 provides that records and reports to the Department of Health pertaining to pregnant women who are determined to be a high risk for substance abuse are also confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.067: Patient Medical Information Reported to the Department Of Health. The Missouri Department of Health is authorized to receive information from individual patient records from health professionals for the purpose of conducting epidemiological studies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.067 renders such individually identifiable patient information confidential. The Department of Health may only release that information in statistical aggregate form, or to other public health authorities that agree to keep the information confidential. Any public health official or employee who knowingly releases information deemed confidential by this section may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032: Nursing Home Residents. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032 provides that medical, social, personal, or financial records of any nursing home resident is confidential, only to be released upon a court order, or to certain enumerated agencies, law enforcement officials, or the person to whom the records pertain.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.155: Medical Assistance Program Records. All information concerning applicants and recipients of medical assistance are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.155. Any disclosure of such information is restricted to purposes directly connected with the medical assistance program. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.040: Blood Test Results for Syphilis or Hepatitis B in Pregnant Women. If a pregnant woman consents to a blood test for syphilis or hepatitis B, and the result of that blood test is either positive or doubtfully positive, the physician or other health care professional is to report that information to the local county or city department of health. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.040. Such reports and the findings reported are confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.824: Artificial Insemination. Records of artificial insemination of a woman with the consent of her husband, and under the supervision of a licensed physician, filed with the Bureau of Vital Records of the Missouri Department of Health, are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.824.

  1. Mental Health Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 205.988: Community Mental Health Services Records. Records or information that identify persons who have received services from a community mental health center are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 205.988.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.080: Department of Mental Health Records. Personally identifiable information retained by the Missouri Department of Mental Health is generally confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.080.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.140: Residential Facilities and Day Programs Operated, Funded or Licensed by Department of Mental Health. Records and information relating to voluntary or involuntary patients, residents or clients of residential facilities or day programs operated, funded or licensed by the Missouri Department of Mental Health are closed (with limited exceptions) pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.140.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.167: Department of Mental Health Investigation Reports. Generally, Department of Mental Health investigation reports referring to abuse or neglect of mental patients, residents or clients are confidential except with respect to parents or guardians of the patient, resident or client who is the subject of the report. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.167. However, investigative reports pertaining to abuse and neglect are no longer confidential once a final report is complete, and final reports of substantiated abuse or neglect issues on or after August 28, 2007, are open and shall be available for release in accordance with chapter 610, unless the director of the department determines the release of the information would jeopardize the care of a patient who has not been adjudged incapacitated or the safety of the public.  However, the name and treatment of the patient and the names and descriptions of the complainant, witnesses or other persons for whom findings are not made against remain confidential. Id.

  1. Miscellaneous Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 100.296: Missouri Development Finance Board Act. Certain provisions of the Missouri Development Finance Board Act are exempt from disclosure under the State and Local Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.200-310 and the Sunshine Law Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010-.030. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 100.296. But Note: The Missouri Development Finance Board Act does not exempt any MDFBA records from the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180 and 190. However, records and documents submitted to the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Economic Development’s Expert and Infrastructure Board, or to a regional planning commission, relating to financial investments in a business, sales projections, or other business plan information which may endanger the competitiveness of a business or that relates to tax credits (except the recipient and amount of the tax credit) are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 100.296 and 620.014.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.289: Absentee Ballots. Generally, lists of those applying for absentee ballots are closed under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.289, except to those identified in the statute, e.g., candidates.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.317: Missouri Genetic Disease Advisory Committee. Records of the Missouri Genetic Disease Advisory Committee relating to tests and personal information obtained from individuals or specimens from any individual relating to genetics and metabolic diseases program are confidential unless the individual, parent or guardian consents to disclosure after being fully informed.  Specimens sent to the department are retained for five years and then destroyed.  Additionally, biological specimens may be released for anonymous scientific study, but the specimen cannot retain any information that may be used to identify the donor.

Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 193.245 and .255: Vital Records (Birth and Death Records). Vital records are certificates or reports of birth, death, marriage, divorce, and related data. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.015. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.245 provides that it is unlawful to permit inspection of or to release information from vital records, except as authorized by statute, regulation, or a court of competent jurisdiction. A list of names of persons who were born or died on a particular date may be disclosed. Id. The Department of Vital Records may also authorize the disclosure of information from vital records “for legitimate research purposes.” In Campbell & Associates Inc. v. Sharma, No. 884-00076 (City of St. Louis Cir. Ct. 1988), the Missouri Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis held that reporters investigating news stories, as a matter of law, have such a “legitimate research purpose.” In addition, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.255 provides that only those persons with a “direct and tangible interest” in a vital record may obtain a certified copy.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 195.042: Registration of Manufacturers, Distributors, or Dispensers of Controlled Substances. All complaints, investigatory reports, and information concerning any applicant, registrant, or individuals registered by the Missouri Department of Health to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or conduct research with controlled substances is confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 209.305: Testing Materials of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf. The Missouri Board of Certification of Interpreters certifies qualified sign language interpreters. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 209.292. All testing materials and records are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 209.305.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 285.015: Employee Lists for Earnings Taxes or Tables. Lists of employees submitted by employers to municipal corporations levying an earnings tax are confidential and are not to be sold, given away or otherwise distributed by municipal corporations or their instrumentalities, and are not to be open to public inspection.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 301.146: Missouri Department of Revenue Records Pertaining to Special License Plates and Drivers Licenses. Records pertaining to the request for, issuance of, retention of, or disposal of special license plates and drivers licenses issued for law enforcement or public safety purposes are not subject to public disclosure and are held by the Department of Revenue as confidential records.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 302.291: Department of Revenue Examinations. The Director of the Missouri Department of Revenue may require a motor vehicle operator, whom the Director has good cause to believe is incompetent or unqualified to retain a driver’s license, to submit to a reexamination. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 302.291. All reports made or medical records obtained by the Department of Revenue for purposes of making a determination of competency are confidential. Id. Any person who knowingly violates a confidentiality provision of this statute is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and liable for resulting damages.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 326.295: Missouri State Board of Accountancy Records Relating to Investigations and Peer Review. All complaint files, investigation files, and other records relating to investigation of accountants by the State Board of Accountancy or Peer Review Committee are closed records under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 326.295. Final findings of fact and written decisions are to be public records. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 537.035: Peer Review Committees for Health Care Professionals. Proceedings, findings, deliberations, reports, and minutes of peer review committees concerning health care provided to patients are privileged and confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 537.035.4.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.010: Applicants for Professional Registration. All educational transcripts, test scores, complaints, investigatory reports and information pertaining to any person who is an applicant or licensee of any state agency assigned to the Missouri Division of Professional Registration are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.010.14

  1. Nursing Home Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032: Nursing Home Residents. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032 provides that medical, social, personal, or financial records of any nursing home resident are confidential, only to be released upon a court order, or to certain enumerated agencies, law enforcement officials, or the person to whom the records pertain.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032.2: Inspections or Investigations of Nursing Homes. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032.2 requires that reports of inspections or investigations of nursing homes are open to the public, provided that the identity of any individual resident or of any person making a complaint about the nursing home is not revealed.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.070.7: Reports of Abuse or Neglect. Reports relating to abuse or neglect of residents of convalescent, nursing and boarding homes are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.070.8. Such records are not subject to the provisions of either the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 109.180 and. 190, or the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.010 et seq. Id. Pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.320, the name of the complainant or any person mentioned in a complaint may not be disclosed unless he or she consents, the Department of Social Services determines disclosure is necessary in order to prevent further abuse or neglect, or is required under other circumstances enumerated in the statute. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.2310: Records of the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care Facility Residents. The State Ombudsman for long-term care facility residents has discretion on whether to release any files pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.2310.

  1. Personnel and Employment Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 36.420: Certain Personnel Records of State Merit Board. Generally, the records of the personnel division of the State Merit Board are to be open for public inspection except where, by regulation, the records are made confidential for reasons of public policy. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 36.420.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 105.1110: Public Employees Suspended or Dismissed Under the Drug-Free Public Work Force Act. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 105.1110 provides that personnel records of any public employee suspended or terminated pursuant to certain provisions of the Drug-Free Public Work Force Act are closed records.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 213.077: Complaints of Unlawful Employment Practices or Discrimination. Complaints of unlawful employment practices or discrimination filed with the Missouri Human Rights Commission are generally open to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 213.077. However, records relating to the Commission’s investigation, settlement discussions or agreements are closed. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 287.280: Self-Insured Employers for Workers’ Compensation Liability. Employers who are self-insured for workers’ compensation liability pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 287.280 are required to provide to the Division of Workers’ Compensation of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations certain insurance premium rate data as listed in the statute. Any data or records submitted pursuant to § 287.280 or pursuant to any rule promulgated thereunder are confidential.

  1. Welfare and Unemployment Records

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.120: Welfare Records. Missouri Department of Social Services records relating to the identity of applicants for or recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or other welfare benefits and other records, files, papers and communications, are confidential, except in proceedings or investigations where benefits eligibility is called into question, or for purposes directly connected with the administration of public assistance.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.120: Applications for Public Welfare Benefits or Services. Information obtained by State officials identifying the identity of applicants or recipients of public assistance is generally deemed confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.120. The Missouri Division of Family Services may release to the public a monthly report identifying the name and address of all recipients of public assistance benefits, along with the amount paid to each recipient during the preceding month. Id. All other information is confidential. Id. The statute provides that the DFS list may not be used for commercial or political purposes, and prohibits publication of any name or list of names from the DFS list. Id. Willful violation of the statute is a misdemeanor. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 285.015: Lists of Employees Furnished to Municipal Corporations. Lists of employees furnished to municipal corporations to be used in connection with an earnings tax are confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 288.250: Unemployment Compensation Records. Information submitted by employers or individuals pursuant to the Missouri Employment Security Law are confidential and are not open to public inspection in any manner revealing an individual’s or employer’s identity except where there is a claim relating to unemployment compensation benefits.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 290.520: Minimum Wage Law Records. Each employer subject to the Minimum Wage Law must make and provide to the Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations certain information relating to employees as set forth in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 290.520. All information retained by the Director is confidential.

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C. Court-derived exclusions, common law prohibitions, recognized privileges against disclosure

There is no case law on this issue.

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D. Are segregable portions of records containing exempt material available?

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.024 requires public governmental bodies to separate public material from exempt material and disclose the public material. Further, the section requires public governmental bodies “to the extent practicable” to facilitate the separation of public information from information exempt from disclosure. See Laut v. City of Arnold, 417 S.W.3d 315 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013) (holding that Missouri public agencies must separate exempt from non-exempt material in investigative reports and disclose whatever is non-exempt). Other statutory provisions permit redaction of sensitive material and the release of redacted records. For example, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.4 allows the court to redact certain material from investigative reports that would otherwise be open to a small class of people including the victim of a crime and the victim’s family.

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III. Record categories - open or closed

A. Autopsy and coroners reports

Coroners are required to prepare and file reports of autopsies performed on bodies where death by criminal action is suspected. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 58.451. Similarly, medical examiners are required to prepare and file reports of autopsies. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 58.720-.740. Whether records pertaining to autopsies performed by other licensed physicians or surgeons with consent, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 194.115, are public records depends on whether those records are retained by a public governmental body.

There are no reported decisions on whether records relating to autopsies performed by coroners or medical examiners are subject to the Sunshine Law. Such records arguably fall within the exception set forth in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(5) relating to “nonjudicial . . . physical health proceedings involving identifiable persons.” Such autopsy reports are not closed in Chapter 58, Mo.Rev.Stat. (“Coroners and Inquests”). However, coroners are required to prepare and file reports of autopsies performed on bodies where death by criminal action is suspected. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 58.451. Similarly, medical examiners are required to prepare and file reports of autopsies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 58.720-.740.

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B. Administrative enforcement records (e.g., worker safety and health inspections, or accident investigations)

The Sunshine Law applies to administrative agencies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). In addition, many statutes outside of the Sunshine Law deal with specific administrative bodies and procedures.

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C. Bank records

Banks are not “public governmental bodies” under the Sunshine Law, therefore bank records are not public records subject to inspection. Savings and loan association books and records pertaining to accounts and loans of account holders, borrowers, and stockholders are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 369.099(2).

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D. Budgets

Budgets are not treated separately.

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E. Business records, financial data, trade secrets

Business records containing financial data and trade secrets of private companies that are retained by public governmental bodies are rarely subject to disclosure. For example, tax returns are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 32.057(l).  Records relating to scientific or technological innovations are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(15). Computer programs may be confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(10).

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F. Contracts, proposals and bids

Most contracts with a public governmental body are subject to disclosure. However, access to specifications for competitor bidding and sealed bids and related documents is restricted under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(11), (12).

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G. Collective bargaining records

Any records relating to preparation on behalf of a public governmental body or its representatives for negotiations with employee groups, including any discussions or work product, may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(9).

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H. Economic development records

Records and documents submitted to the department of economic development, to the Missouri economic development, export and infrastructure board, or to a regional planning commission formed pursuant to chapter 251, relating to financial investments in a business, or sales projections or other business plan information which may endanger the competitiveness of a business, or records pertaining to a business prospect with which the department, board, or commission is currently negotiating, may be deemed a closed record. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.014.

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I. Election Records

Voter registration records are open, but cannot be used for commercial purposes. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.158.6.

All public records on file in the Secretary of State’s office are subject to inspection by any person during regular business hours. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 28.070. Not later than the second Tuesday after an election, a voting verification board must issue a statement announcing the results of each election in its jurisdiction. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.507.1. A similar law requires announcements to be made by a board of canvassers convened by the Secretary of State. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.511. Each person nominated after a primary is to be issued a certificate of nomination. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.523. Within two days after the first meeting of each General Assembly, the Secretary of State must “lay before each house a list of its elected members.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.525. Voted ballots are to be kept for twenty-two months by the election authority. However, during that time period, the election authority shall not open or inspect them or allow anyone else to do so except a legislative body trying an election contest, a court or a grand jury. After twenty-two months the records may be destroyed, unless there is an ongoing contest, investigation or case. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 115.493.

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J. Emergency Medical Services records

There is no relevant case law.

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K. Gun permits

Records of permits are closed to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 571.093.

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L. Homeland security and anti-terrorism measures

Operational guidelines and policies developed, adopted or maintained by any public agency responsible for law enforcement, public safety, first response, or public health for use in responding to “any critical incident which is or appears to be terrorist in nature and has the potential to endanger individual public safety or health. This exception does not close information relating to contracts and expenditures made in implementing these guidelines and policies. An agency seeking to use this exception must state in writing that disclosure would impair its ability to protect health or safety of persons and must further state in writing that the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure. This provision sunsets on December 31, 2008.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(18).

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M. Hospital reports

If a hospital constitutes a public governmental body, its records are subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law unless a particular exception applies. For example, budgetary and policy-oriented discussions of a Hospital Board may be open to public inspection; however, individual patient records would not be open to inspection by the general public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(5) (records relating to nonjudicial mental or health proceedings involving identifiable persons may be closed to the public). Various Missouri statutes close certain medical, mental and nursing home records.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 167.183: Immunization Records. Immunization records may only be disclosed to certain persons enumerated in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 167.183, e.g., public agencies, schools, health care professionals. Disclosure of such records to other persons is prohibited. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656: HIV Testing. Any information or records containing a person’s HIV infection status or the results of any individual’s HIV testing is confidential, and may be disclosed only to certain persons designated in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656 (e.g., certain public agencies, adoptive or foster parents, day care facilities, group homes). The statute authorizes civil actions for violation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.686 authorizes the Department of Health to identify children who test positive for HIV to schools that adopted a policy consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. Such schools may in turn release that information to certain persons who “need to know” the child’s identity in order to provide proper health care.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.731: Pregnant Women Referred to the Department of Health for Substance Abuse Treatment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.731 provides that records and reports pertaining to women referred to the Department of Health for substance abuse treatment shall be confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.743 provides that records and reports to the Department of Health pertaining to pregnant women who are determined to be a high risk for substance abuse are also confidential.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.067: Patient Medical Information Reported to the Department Of Health. The Missouri Department of Health is authorized to receive information from individual patient records from health professionals for the purpose of conducting epidemiological studies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 192.067 renders such individually identifiable patient information confidential. The Department of Health may only release that information in statistical aggregate form, or to other public health authorities that agree to keep the information confidential. Any public health official or employee who knowingly releases information deemed confidential by this section may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032: Nursing Home Residents. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032 provides that medical, social, personal, or financial records of any nursing home resident is confidential, only to be released upon a court order, or to certain enumerated agencies, law enforcement officials, or the person to whom the records pertain.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.155: Medical Assistance Program Records. All information concerning applicants and recipients of medical assistance are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 208.155. Any disclosure of such information is restricted to purposes directly connected with the medical assistance program. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.040: Blood Test Results for Syphilis or Hepatitis B in Pregnant Women. If a pregnant woman consents to a blood test for syphilis or hepatitis B, and the result of that blood test is either positive or doubtfully positive, the physician or other health care professional is to report that information to the local county or city department of health. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.040. Such reports and the findings reported are confidential. Id.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.824: Artificial Insemination. Records of artificial insemination of a woman with the consent of her husband, and under the supervision of a licensed physician, filed with the Bureau of Vital Records of the Missouri Department of Health, are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 210.824.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 205.988: Community Mental Health Services Records. Records or information that identify persons who have received services from a community mental health center are confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 205.988.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.080: Department of Mental Health Records. Personally identifiable information retained by the Missouri Department of Mental Health is generally confidential pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.080.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.140: Residential Facilities and Day Programs Operated, Funded or Licensed by Department of Mental Health. Records and information relating to voluntary or involuntary patients, residents or clients of residential facilities or day programs operated, funded or licensed by the Missouri Department of Mental Health are closed (with limited exceptions) pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.140.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.167: Department of Mental Health Investigation Reports. Department of Mental Health investigation reports referring to abuse or neglect of mental patients, residents or clients are confidential except with respect to parents or guardians of the patient, resident or client who is the subject of the report. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 630.167. However, investigative reports pertaining to abuse and neglect are no longer confidential once a final report is complete, and final reports of substantiated abuse or neglect issues on or after August 28, 2007, are open and shall be available for release in accordance with chapter 610, unless the director of the department determines the release of the information would jeopardize the care of a patient who has not been adjudged incapacitated or the safety of the public.  However, the name and treatment of the patient and the names and descriptions of the complainant, witnesses or other persons for whom findings are not made against remain confidential. Id.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032: Nursing Home Residents. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032 provides that medical, social, personal, or financial records of any nursing home resident are confidential only to be released upon a court order, or to certain enumerated agencies, law enforcement officials, or the person to whom the records pertain.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032.2: Inspections or Investigations of Nursing Homes. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032.2 requires that reports of inspections or investigations of nursing homes are open to the public, provided that the identity of any individual resident or of any person making a complaint about the nursing home is not revealed.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.070.7: Reports of Abuse or Neglect. Reports relating to abuse or neglect of residents of convalescent, nursing and boarding homes are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.070.7. Such records are not subject to the provisions of either the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 109.180 and. 190, or the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.010 et seq. Id. Pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 660.320, the name of the complainant or any person mentioned in a complaint may not be disclosed unless he or she consents, the Department of Social Services determines disclosure is necessary in order to prevent further abuse or neglect, or it is required under other circumstances enumerated in the statute. Id.

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N. Personnel records

1. Salary

The salary of a public employee is an open record. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13). The term “salary” has been held to include pension benefits, Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996), and severance pay. Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989). Additionally, accrued pay records are “salary” according to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(14) when the accrued time is made payable to the employee from state treasury funds or “public coffers.”  State ex rel. Daly v. Info. Tech. Servs. Agency of City of St. Louis, 417 S.W.3d 804 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013).

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2. Disciplinary records

Records relating to hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting employees of a public governmental body may be closed when personal information is discussed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3). See Wolfskill v. Henderson, 823 S.W.2d 112, 114 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (held police department internal investigative reports not subject to disclosure under Sunshine Law); Wilson v. McNeil, 575 S.W.2d 802, 806 (Mo.Ct.App. 1978) (records of police department pertaining to investigation into death of man in police custody may be closed). But see Guyer v. City of Kirkwood, 38 S.W.3d 412 (Mo. 2001) (finding that internal police investigation report was open to the public because Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3) conflicted with a section of the state open records law demanding release of all inactive incident and investigation reports). Personal information is defined to include only information relating to the performance or merit of individual employees. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).

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3. Applications

Individually identifiable personnel records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment may also be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13). However, the names, positions, salaries, and lengths of service of officers and employees once they are employed as such are public records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13).

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4. Personally identifying information

Individually identifiable personal records may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13). Social security numbers must be closed (with limited exceptions). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.035.  The government agency receiving a Sunshine Act request must redact the exempt, personal information before releasing the non-exempt information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.024.

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5. Expense reports

No reported cases were found dealing specifically with expense reports.

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6. Other

The names, positions, salaries and length of service of public employees are the only personnel records presumed to be open. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(13).

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O. Police records

1. Accident reports

All reports that include the date, time, location, name of the victim and the immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or incident are open records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.2(1).

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2. Police blotter

Local law enforcement agencies that maintain a daily log or record that lists suspected crimes, accidents, or complaints are required to make certain limited information available to the public, including the time, substance and location of all complaints or requests for assistance, the time and nature of the agency’s response, information relating to the underlying occurrence, the name and age of certain victims, and a general description of the injuries, property or weapons involved. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.200. This provision has been amended to eliminate a 30‑day waiting period for release of this information to the general public. The media has been one of a limited class of those privileged to see the daily logs during the waiting period.

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3. 911 tapes

Information acquired by a law enforcement agency by way of a complaint or report of a crime made by telephone contact using the emergency number, “911,” is inaccessible to the general public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.150. Such information is only available to law enforcement agencies, the division of workers’ compensation, or to those persons who have secured a court order upon good cause shown. Id.

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4. Investigatory records

Investigative reports are closed records until the investigation becomes “inactive.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.2. The term “inactive” is defined to include a decision by a law enforcement agency not to pursue a case, the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, or the finality of convictions and exhaustion of all appeals. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(3).

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5. Arrest records

The Arrest Record Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100 et seq., was amended in 1995 to distinguish between arrest, incident and investigation reports of law enforcement agencies.

Definitions. “Arrest reports” are records of an arrest and of any detention or confinement incident to an arrest. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(2). An “arrest” is defined as the actual restraint of the person of the defendant, or by his or her submission to custody, under authority of a warrant or otherwise for a criminal violation which results in the issuance of the summons or the person being booked. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.160.1(1). “Incident reports” consist of immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or incident, including any logs of reported crimes, accidents and complaints maintained by the law enforcement agency. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(4). “Investigative reports” are reports other than arrest reports or incident reports that are prepared by a law enforcement agency inquiring into a crime or suspected crime, either in response to an incident report or to evidence developed by law enforcement officers in the course of their duties. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.1(5)

Access. All arrest reports and incident reports are public records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.2. However, if a person who is arrested is not charged with an offense within thirty days, official records of the arrest and of any confinement incidental to that arrest become closed records. Id. If a person who is arrested and charged, but the charge is later nolle prossed or dismissed, or the person is either found not guilty or received a suspended imposition of his sentence (“SIS”), records of the arrest and the criminal proceedings become closed records pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.105, “when such case is finally terminated.” See State ex rel. Pulitzer Missouri Newspapers, Inc. v. Seay, 330 S.W.3d 823, 827 (Mo.Ct.App. 2011) (if imposition of sentence is suspended and probation is ordered, the case is not terminated until successful completion of probation).

Law enforcement agencies are afforded discretion to withhold arrest, incident, or other reports or records if they contain information that is “reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer or other person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.3. Law enforcement agencies may also withhold otherwise public records if disclosure would “jeopardize a criminal investigation,” or would disclose the identity of a source wishing to remain confidential or of a suspect not in custody. Id. See State ex rel. DeGaffenreid v. Keet, 619 S.W.2d 873 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981) (held a “summons” does not constitute an arrest, and that § 610.105 does not shield such records); Charlier v. Corum, 794 S.W.2d 676 (Mo.Ct.App. 1990) (inmate records retained by sheriff are public records subject to disclosure); News-Press & Gazette Co., supra, at 579-80 (Medical Examiner’s office is a “law enforcement agency” and autopsy records are public records).

Any person, attorney for a person, or insurer of a person involved in any incident or whose property is involved in any incident may obtain any closed 911, arrest, incident or investigation records for the purpose of investigation of any civil claim or defense. Upon written request, any individual involved in an incident, or whose property was involved in an incident, his attorney or insurer, may obtain a complete, unaltered, and unedited incident report concerning the incident, and may obtain arrest and investigative reports which are closed. Within 30 days of such a request, the agency shall provide the requested material or file a motion with the circuit court having jurisdiction over the law enforcement agency stating the safety of the victim, witness or other individual cannot be reasonably ensured, or that the criminal investigation is likely to be jeopardized. If, based on such motion, the court finds for the law enforcement agency, the court shall either have the record closed or order such portion of the record that should be closed to be redacted. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100(4).

Lawsuits Seeking Access to Information in Investigative Reports. The 1995 amendments to the Arrest Records Law authorizes any person to file a lawsuit in circuit court seeking disclosure of information contained in an investigative report which would otherwise be a closed record. The circuit court may examine the investigation report in camera and is to consider whether the benefit to the person bringing the action outweighs any harm to the public, the law enforcement agency or officers, or any person identified in the investigative report. The court may order the person filing the lawsuit to pay the costs and attorneys fees of both parties. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.5

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6. Compilations of criminal histories

No specific provision.

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7. Victims

Law enforcement agencies are afforded discretion to withhold arrest, incident, or other reports or records if they contain information that is “reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer or other person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.3. See Hyde v. City of Columbia, 637 S.W.2d 251 (Mo.Ct.App. 1982) (judicially created exception permitting withholding of victim’s name while accused was still at large.

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8. Confessions

No specific provision.

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9. Confidential informants

Law enforcement agencies are afforded discretion to withhold arrest, incident, or other reports or records if they contain information that is “reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer or other person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.100.3. See Hyde v. City of Columbia, 637 S.W.2d 251 (Mo.Ct.App. 1982) (judicially created exception permitting withholding of victim’s name while accused was still at large.

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10. Police techniques

Information regarding police practices and equipment is not subject to the Sunshine Law when it does not affect the general public. See Fletcher v. Tomlinson, No. 4:14-CV-999, 2014 WL 5425555 at *3 (E.D. Mo. 2014) (holding that information relating to a police department’s use of temporary stunning instrumentalities affected the general public and was subject to the Sunshine Law, but that the incidents surrounding an individual’s arrest did not affect the general public and were not subject to the Sunshine Law).

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11. Mugshots

No specific provision.

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12. Sex offender records

Sex offenders must register their names with the chief law enforcement officer of the county. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 589.400. That officer may post the information open to the public in searchable form on the internet or publish it in newspapers. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 589.402. The public information includes: name; aliases; birth date; physical description; residence, temporary, school and work addresses; photograph; physical description of motor vehicle and other vehicle information; nature and dates of the sexual offenses qualifying the offender for the registry; date of release from custody or placed on parole or probation; compliance status with the registration law; and online identifiers. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 589.402.3(1)-(10). The Missouri Highway Patrol must operate a toll-free number to disseminate registration information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 43.533.1.

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13. Emergency medical services records

Ambulance services and emergency medical response agencies shall maintain records of each patient and keep the records for five years. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 190.175(1) and (2). The records are available to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 190.175.5.

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14. Police video (i.e., “body camera footage”)

P. Prison, parole and probation reports

Pre-parole reports and supervision histories of inmates in state correctional and penal institutions are privileged and are not to be disclosed except to the parole board, and at the discretion of the board, to the defendant or prisoner or his attorney, or other person have a proper interest in the report (i.e., whenever the best interest or welfare of a defendant or prisoner makes the action desirable or helpful). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 549.500.

Any meeting, record, or vote, of proceedings involving probation, parole, or pardon may be a closed meeting, closed record, or closed vote. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 217.670.5.

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Q. Professional licensing records

There is no case law at this time.

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R. Public utility records

Only if a public utility constitutes a “public governmental body” as defined in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(2) are its records subject to disclosure.

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S. Real estate appraisals, negotiations

Government records relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(2). Such records, including minutes of closed meetings, may be closed even if no actual lease, purchase or sale of real estate results. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995).

Before a “real estate” record may be closed, the public governmental body must first find that public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration for that real estate. § 610.021(2).

Minutes of closed meetings, votes or other public records approving the contract relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body must be made public upon execution of the lease, purchase or sale of the real estate.

See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995) (holding that the city properly withheld minutes of closed council meetings where agreements to operate city-owned landfill were discussed with independent contractors until the agreements were finally approved); City of St. Louis v. City of Bridgton, 806 S.W.2d 717, 719 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (holding that the meaning of the term “transaction” in the real estate exception is broad enough to encompass multi-lot bulk real estate acquisition or buyout program by public governmental body, and contracts on individual lots need not be available for public inspection until buyout program is complete and knowledge of purchase prices on individual lots would not adversely affect subsequent contracts); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 331 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (mere reference in a public record to a real estate transaction is not sufficient to trigger application of the real estate exception; the exception applies only where the actual terms of any real estate transaction or a negotiating position of the public governmental body is reflected in the record).

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1. Appraisals

Appraisal records must be maintained for five years and made available to the Missouri Real Estate Commission upon request. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 339.537.

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2. Negotiations

See above.

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3. Transactions

See above.

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4. Deeds, liens, foreclosures, title history

Every instrument that conveys any real estate must be recorded in the office of the recorder of the county in which such real estate is located. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 442.380. In addition, foreclosure notices must be publicly published. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 443.320.

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5. Zoning records

Zoning regulations and restrictions cannot be implemented without a public hearing and the opportunity for parties in interest and citizens to be heard. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 89.050.

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T. School and university records

Institutions of higher education are public governmental bodies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(a). Governmental bodies can close meetings that relate to “[s]cholastic probation, expulsion, or graduation of identifiable individuals.” McClaskey v. La Plata R-II School Dist., No. 2:03CV00066 AGF, 2006 WL 1994903 at *4 (E.D. Mo. July 14, 2006).

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1. Athletic records

No specific provision.

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2. Trustee records

Public universities must comply with the Sunshine Law. Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 329 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988); MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 537 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984).

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3. Student records

Scholastic records are closed except to certain interested parties (students, parents, guardians, etc.). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(6). The scholastic records exception does not apply to criminal investigation and incident reports prepared by university law enforcement. Bauer v. Kincaid, 759 F.Supp. 575 (W.D. Mo. 1991).

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4. Other

Testing and examination materials can be closed before the test is given (or to be given again). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(7). Average standardized test scores for each grade of each elementary school are public records according to the Attorney General. Of. Atty. Gen. # 68-93, Shields, May 5, 1993.

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U. State guard records

There is no separate case law on this issue at this time.

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V. Tax records

Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act liens are protected from disclosure by §208.155. Douglas, Haun, & Heidemann, P.C. v. Missouri Department of Social Services, 500 S.W.3d 872, 875 (Mo. Ct. App. 2016).

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W. Vital Statistics

Vital records are certificates or reports of birth, death, marriage, divorce, and related data. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.015. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.245 provides that it is unlawful to permit inspection of or to release information from vital records, except as authorized by statute, regulation, or a court of competent jurisdiction. A list of names of persons who were born or died on a particular date may be disclosed. Id. The Department of Vital Records may also authorize the disclosure of information from vital records “for legitimate research purposes” and death records over fifty years old. Id. In Campbell & Associates, Inc. v. Sharma, No. 884‑00076 (City of St. Louis Cir. Ct. 1988), the Missouri Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis held that reporters investigating news stories, as a matter of law, have such a “legitimate research purpose.” In addition, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 193.255 provides that only those persons with a “direct and tangible interest” in a vital record may obtain a certified copy.

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1. Birth certificates

See above.

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2. Marriage and divorce

See above.

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3. Death certificates

See above.

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4. Infectious disease and health epidemics

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656: HIV Testing. Any information or records containing a person’s HIV infection status or the results of any individual’s HIV testing are confidential, and may be disclosed only to certain persons designated in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.656 (e.g., certain public agencies, adoptive or foster parents, day care facilities, group homes). The statute authorizes civil actions for violation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 191.686 authorizes the Department of Health to identify children who test positive for HIV to schools that adopted a policy consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. Such schools may in turn release that information to certain persons who “need to know” the child’s identity in order to provide proper health care.

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IV. Procedure for obtaining records

Procedures for requesting access to public records are set forth in the Sunshine Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023. Procedures for requesting public records pursuant to the Public Records Law, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180, are not codified. Rather, a public body may establish “reasonable rules and conditions” for public records requested pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 109.180. State ex rel. Gray v. Brigham, 622 S.W.2d 734, 735 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981). The remainder of this section deals with procedures for disclosure under the Sunshine Law.

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A. How to start

1. Who receives a request?

Each public governmental body is to provide a reasonable written policy, open to public inspection, regarding the release of information on any meeting, record or vote. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.028.2. When in doubt about a particular body’s procedures, ask to review this written policy. Requests for access to public records should be directed to the custodian of those records. Each public governmental body is required by the Sunshine Law to appoint a custodian who is to be responsible for maintenance of that body’s records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.l. The identity and location of a public governmental body’s custodian is to be made available upon request. Id.; Pennington v. Dobbs, 235 S.W.3d 77, 79 (Mo.Ct.App. 2007). Though one agency may also have access to the records a party seeks, only the “custodian of records for the agency whose records are sought has the responsibility for the dissemination or non-dissemination of those records.” State ex rel. Daly v. Info. Tech. Servs. Agency of City of St. Louis, 417 S.W.3d 804, 809 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013).

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2. Does the law cover oral requests?

Requests for access to public records may be made orally or in writing. For routine requests to which an objection is unlikely, oral requests are sufficient. However, if opposition to access is anticipated, a written and dated request is recommended.

Each request for access to public records is to be acted upon as soon as possible, but in no event longer than three business days following the request, except for good cause. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.3. However, if a given request is burdensome, it is wise to make arrangements with the custodian beforehand. If access is not provided within the statutory period, the custodian must give a detailed explanation of the reason for the delay and identify the place and the earliest time that the record will be available for inspection.

If an oral request for access to public records is denied, the person making the request should request a written statement of the grounds for the denial by the custodian. Upon such a request, the custodian must provide a written statement citing the specific provision of law under which access is denied no later than the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.4. The request for a written statement from the custodian is not required by the Sunshine Law to be in writing. However, it is advisable to make or confirm the request in writing to document the date on which the request was made.

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3. Contents of a written request

The Sunshine Law does not set requirements for written requests for access to public records. However, the records requested should be identified to enable the custodian to locate the particular records of interest. The Sunshine Law authorizes the custodian to require payment of any fees prior to the making of copies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026(2). Therefore, a written request should include an offer to pay such fees.

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B. How long to wait

1. Statutory, regulatory or court-set time limits for agency response

Three Business Days Rule and “Reasonable Cause” Exception. The Sunshine Law requires that each request for access to a public record be acted upon as soon as possible, and in no event later than the end of the third business day following the date the request is received by the custodian of records of a public governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.3. The three-day period for document production may be exceeded for “reasonable cause.” Id. If access to requested public records is not granted within the three-day period, the Sunshine Law requires the custodian to give a detailed explanation of the cause for further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the requested records will be available for inspection. Id.

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2. Informal telephone inquiry as to status

Informal telephone inquiry as to the status of the request is permitted. As with most governmental agencies, the success of such inquiries is largely dependent on the mood of the governmental employee and the civility of the inquiry.

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3. Is delay recognized as a denial for appeal purposes?

There is no specific guidance for determining when a reasonable denial has become a de facto denial.

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4. Any other recourse to encourage a response

If access to requested public records is denied, the person making the request for records should request a written statement from the custodian stating the grounds for the denial.

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C. Administrative appeal

The Sunshine Law does not provide for an express right of an administrative appeal. An informal administrative “appeal” to a superior may be successful and less expensive than litigation.

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1. Time limit

There are no administrative appeals, but the time limit for a challenge in the circuit court is one year after the violation is ascertainable, but no more than two years after the violation.

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2. To whom is an appeal directed?

A challenge to a failure to adhere to the Sunshine Law is to be brought in the circuit court for the county in which the governmental body has its principal place of business. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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3. Fee issues

A challenge to a failure to adhere to the Sunshine Law is to be brought in the circuit court for the county in which the governmental body has its principal place of business. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1. Courts will address fee issues. See, e.g., R.L. Polk & Co. v. Missouri Dept. of Revenue, 309 S.W.3d 881 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010).

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4. Contents of appeal letter

There are no appeal letters.  Challenges to a Sunshine Law denial are made by filing suit in Circuit Court.

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5. Waiting for a response

N/A.

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6. Subsequent remedies

N/A.

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D. Court action

1. Who may sue?

Any aggrieved person, taxpayer, or citizen of Missouri, the Attorney General or prosecuting attorney may seek judicial enforcement of the requirements of the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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2. Priority

The Sunshine Law does not require that access cases be given priority on court dockets. However, most such cases under the Sunshine Law request injunctive relief. Frequently, motions for preliminary injunctions are heard on an expedited basis. Once a hearing is set on a motion for preliminary injunction, a request to consolidate the hearing on the merits with the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is often granted.

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3. Pro se

Pro se actions to enforce the Sunshine Law are not prohibited. However, in light of the highly technical arguments frequently advanced in support of and in opposition to disclosure, advice and participation of counsel is recommended.

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4. Issues the court will address

The court will consider the reasons for the denial, fees charged for the records, and any unreasonable delays. The Sunshine Law authorizes a public governmental body which is in doubt about the legality of closing a particular meeting, record, or vote to bring a suit at its own expense in the circuit court of the county of its principal place of business to ascertain the propriety of any such action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027(5). However, a court will not provide declaratory relief unless there is an actual meeting, record or vote at issue. See Fulson v. Kansas City Star Company, 816 S.W.2d 297, 299 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (denied declaratory relief sought by board of directors of school district and newspaper because questions were abstract, and did not relate to particular meetings, records, or votes of the school district).

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a. Denial

A court has held that a Sunshine Law request was properly denied where the requesting individual asked for the governmental body to create a new, customized record, as opposed to requesting access to existing records in the possession of the governmental body. Jones v. Jackson County Circuit Court, 2005 Mo. App. LEXIS 231 (Mo.Ct.App. Feb. 8, 2005).

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b. Fees for records

Section 610.026 governs fees for copying public records. Fees for copying public records, except those records restricted under 32.091, shall not exceed ten cents per page for a paper copy not larger than nine by fourteen inches, with the hourly fee for duplicating time not to exceed the average hourly rate of pay for clerical staff of the public governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026(1). Research time required for fulfilling records requests may be charged at the actual cost of research time. Id. The public governmental body shall produce the copies using employees of the body that result in the lowest amount of charges for search, research, and duplication time. Id. A court has held that attorney review time is not included in the “research time” that public bodies may charge for pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.026(1). White v. City of Ladue, 422 S.W.3d 439, 452 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013). Fees for electronic records cannot exceed the actual cost to the public governmental body, plus research time. R.L. Polk & Co. v. Missouri Dept. of Revenue, 309 S.W.3d 881 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010).

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c. Delays

Courts will address delays that violate the Sunshine Law.  Requests for records must be acted upon as soon as possible, but in no event later than three business days without reasonable cause for the delay (and any delay must be accompanied by a “detailed explanation of the cause of further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the record will be available.”  See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.023.4. When a citizen requested records for use at a hearing and received one of the requested records after the three-day time limit but before the hearing, a court found no Sunshine Law violation because the citizen had time to review the record prior to the hearing. Perkins v. Caldwell, 363 S.W.3d 149, 154 (Mo.Ct.App. 2012)

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d. Patterns for future access (declaratory judgment)

The Sunshine Law authorizes a public governmental body which is in doubt about the legality of closing a particular meeting, record, or vote to bring a suit at its own expense in the circuit court of the county of its principal place of business to ascertain the propriety of any such action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027(5). However, a court will not provide declaratory relief unless there is an actual meeting, record or vote at issue. See Fulson v. Kansas City Star Company, 816 S.W.2d 297, 299 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (denied declaratory relief sought by board of directors of school district and newspaper because questions were abstract, and did not relate to particular meetings, records, or votes of the school district).

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5. Pleading format

An action under the Sunshine Law does not have any particular pleading requirements different from any other civil action. Because a petition failed to allege that the village’s custodian of records had actually received a citizen’s request for access to information, the citizen failed to state a claim for violation of the Sunshine Law. Anderson v. Jacksonville, 103 S.W.3d 190 (Mo.Ct.App. 2003). A citizen also failed to state a claim for violation of the Sunshine Law when his pleadings “did not demonstrate the records requested were public records of a governmental body” because the information he sought was not available in an existing document possessed by the public government body. Douglas v. Office of the State Courts Administrator, 470 S.W.3d 29, 30 (Mo.Ct.App. 2015). Once the party seeking judicial enforcement of the Sunshine Law demonstrates the body in question is subject to the Sunshine Law and has held a closed meeting, record or vote, the burden shifts to the governmental body to demonstrate compliance with the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.2.  See also, Pennington v. Dobbs, 235 S.W.3d 77, 79 (Mo.Ct.App. 2007) (petitions in cases in which a governmental body refused or failed to respond to a Sunshine Law request need to allege a request for public record, that the custodian of the record received the request and the custodian did not timely respond).

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6. Time limit for filing suit

A suit to enforce the Sunshine Law must be brought within one year from the time the violation is ascertainable and in no event more than two years after the violation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. See Bartis v. City of Bridgeton, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 36550; Columbo v. Buford, 93 S.W.2d 690, 695 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (“ascertainable” means when the alleged violation could have been discovered or when it was made known).

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7. What court

Suit must be brought in the county in which the public governmental body has its principal place of business. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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8. Judicial remedies available

The court may issue a declaratory judgment holding that the public governmental body violated the Sunshine Law, and issue an injunction prohibiting further violations. However, the court may only enter a declaratory judgment in the context of a specific factual matrix and an actual justiciable controversy. See Fulson v. Kansas City Star Co., 816 S.W.2d 297, 299 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991); Buckner v. Burnett, 908 S.W.2d 908 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995). In a suit for judicial enforcement of the Sunshine Law in which a public governmental body is determined to have violated the statute, typically a court will enter an injunction compelling compliance both as to past violations (i.e., require that a public record be made available for public inspection) and future violations (i.e., require that similar public meetings or records be open to the public in the future). However, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District has held that the Sunshine Law does not provide a remedy in the nature of an injunction relating to future requests. Buckner v. Burnett, supra at 911-12. Rather, the Sunshine Law merely provides a remedy for past violations. Id. In the event a public governmental body repeats the same violation, that new violation could be deemed a purposeful violation of the Sunshine Law, affording additional relief, including attorneys fees and fines.

Nevertheless, an injunction enjoining the violating party from withholding any of the improperly closed material may be issued; even portions of the material that were properly closed may be ordered open. Sorkin v. Smith (Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, No. 984-01519, Nov. 23, 1999).

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9. Litigation expenses

A court may order a public governmental body or its members to pay all costs and reasonable attorney fees to any party successfully establishing a purposeful or knowing violation of the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3-.4.

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a. Attorney fees

If the court finds a knowing violation, it may award costs and attorneys’ fees. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3. If the court finds a purposeful violation, the court shall award costs and attorneys’ fees. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. A governmental body must knowingly violate the Sunshine Law, not merely know that it failed to produce a document, for a trial court to impose a civil penalty or assess costs and attorneys’ fees. Laut v. City of Arnold, 491 S.W.3d 191, 199 (Mo. 2016). The governmental body’s purpose must be to violate the Sunshine law, not merely to not produce the report. Id.

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b. Court and litigation costs

See above.

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10. Fines

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law).

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11. Other penalties

In addition to injunctive relief to preclude future violations of the Sunshine Law, under certain circumstances a court may void action taken by the public governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. First, the court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the public governmental body violated the Sunshine Law. Second, the court must find under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in the enforcement of the policy of the Sunshine Law outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken in the closed meeting, record, or vote. Id. See also SSM Health Care v. Mo. Health Facilities Review Comm., 1994 Mo.App. Lexis 700 at *11-14 (Mo.Ct.App. 1994) (agency vote would not be voided where agency could only reach the same result if there were a new vote); State ex rel. Page v. Reorganized School District R-VI of Christian County, 765 S.W.2d 317, 322 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (school board violated Sunshine Law, but such violation was not a basis for rendering subsequently enacted ordinance void).

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12. Settlement, pros and cons

Generally, the governmental body is equally interested in obtaining a judicial resolution of the question of access to particular records. Accordingly, settlement is not often pursued.

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E. Appealing initial court decisions

1. Appeal routes

Appeal is to the Missouri Court of Appeals for the applicable district.

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2. Time limits for filing appeals

The notice of appeal must be filed within thirty days after entry of the judgment or other action by the court that has the practical effect of terminating a party’s action in the form they desired to bring it. Mo.R.Civ.P. 81.05(a).

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3. Contact of interested amici

The appearance of amici are permitted both in the circuit court and on appeal. Interested amici will depend on the nature of the records sought.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press often files amicus briefs in cases involving significant media law issues before a state’s highest court.

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F. Addressing government suits against disclosure

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.6 permits a public governmental body that is in doubt about the legality of the disclosure of particular information to bring suit at its own expense in circuit court or to seek an opinion from the Attorney General.

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Open Meetings

I. Statute - basic application

Missouri law on open meetings is governed by the Open Meetings Act, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010-.030 (“Sunshine Law”), the same statute governing access to public records.

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A. Who may attend?

Any member of the public may attend public meetings under the Sunshine Law. Access is not limited to United States, Missouri, or community citizens. State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities of City of Springfield v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285, 289 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (the Sunshine Law confers rights on the general public and not upon any particular segment or representative of the general public).

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B. What governments are subject to the law?

Any public governmental body as defined in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4) is subject to the Sunshine Law, including state, county, local, or municipal governmental entities.

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1. State

Yes, see Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4).

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2. County

Yes, see Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4).

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3. Local or municipal

Yes, see Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4).

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C. What bodies are covered by the law?

1. Executive branch agencies

a. What officials are covered?

Meetings of any public governmental body as defined in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4) must be open to the public. This includes meetings of executive officials. “[A] single member body, [however], cannot have meetings, [but] it can have records.” MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 537 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984).

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b. Are certain executive functions covered?

Meetings involving all executive functions must be open to the public if they involve deliberations or decisions that in any way affect the public. MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 538 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984).

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c. Are only certain agencies subject to the act?

Administrative agencies are subject to the Sunshine Law. See Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 329 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988).

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2. Legislative bodies

Legislative bodies are subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4) (definition of “public governmental body” includes any legislative governmental entity created by the constitution, statutes, order or ordinance).

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3. Courts

The law does not apply to courts in their judicial capacity. See Remington v. City of Boonville, 701 S.W.2d 804, 807 (Mo.Ct.App. 1985) (“the legislature totally removed the judiciary from the definition of ‘public governmental body,’ and ipso facto, from the operation of Missouri’s Sunshine Law”). A judicial entity is subject to the open meeting law when it is “operating in an administrative capacity.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4). In addition, Article 1, § 14 of the Missouri Constitution provides that “the courts of justice shall be open to every person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 476.170 provides that “the sitting of every court shall be public and every person may freely attend the same.” The common law right to access to courts applies. Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Transit Cas. Co., 43 S.W.3d 293, 301 (Mo. banc 2001).

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4. Nongovernmental bodies receiving public funds or benefits

The Sunshine Law by its terms includes only “public governmental bodies” and “quasi-public governmental bodies.” Mo.Rev.Stat § 610.010(4). Entities that fall outside these definitions are not covered by the Sunshine Law.

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5. Nongovernmental groups whose members include governmental officials

As noted above, the Sunshine Law by its terms includes only “public governmental bodies” and “quasi-public governmental bodies.” Mo.Rev.Stat § 610.010(4). Entities that fall outside these definitions are not covered by the Sunshine Law.

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6. Multi-state or regional bodies

If a public governmental body participates in a multistate or regional body (such as a planning authority), then the law affords a right of access to those meetings. See Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(g).

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7. Advisory boards and commissions, quasi-governmental entities

Advisory boards and commissions and quasi-governmental entities are expressly governed by the law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(a)-(f); MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534, 538 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984).

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8. Other bodies to which governmental or public functions are delegated

The definition of quasi-public governmental body includes entities that have as their primary purpose to enter into contracts with governmental bodies or engage primarily in activities carried out pursuant to a contract with a governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4)(f)a.

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9. Appointed as well as elected bodies

Appointed as well as elected bodies are governed by the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(4).

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D. What constitutes a meeting subject to the law

1. Number that must be present

Any meeting of a public governmental body at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy formulated is subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). There is no number of members of a public governmental body required to be present to constitute a “meeting” of that body. Generally, the presence or absence of a quorum is not controlling. But see Op. Att’y Gen. 144 (Conway 1975) (off-the-record pre-hearing conference of Missouri Public Service Commission not subject to Sunshine Law unless a quorum of commissioners is present).

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a. Must a minimum number be present to constitute a "meeting"?

Any meeting of a public governmental body at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy formulated is subject to the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). There is no number of members of a public governmental body required to be present to constitute a “meeting” of that body. Generally, the presence or absence of a quorum is not controlling. But see Op. Att’y Gen. 144 (Conway 1975) (off-the-record pre-hearing conference of Missouri Public Service Commission not subject to Sunshine Law unless a quorum of commissioners is present).

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b. What effect does absence of a quorum have?

Where the members of a public governmental body are all elected (except for the Missouri General Assembly), all votes taken by roll call shall be cast by members of the body who are physically present and in attendance at the meeting. If the public body has an emergency, and a quorum of the body are physically present and less than a quorum are participating through electronic means including telephone, Internet, or facsimile, the nature of the emergency justifying departure from the normal requirement of physical presence shall be stated in the minutes and in such an emergency, all votes taken shall be regarded as if all members were physically present. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.015.

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2. Nature of business subject to the law

a. "Information gathering" and "fact-finding" sessions

Any discussion of public business, even “information gathering” and “fact-finding” sessions, are covered by the Sunshine Law. See MacLachlan v. McNary, 684 S.W.2d 534 (Mo.Ct.App. 1984) (annexation study commission which considered and recommended changes in the St. Louis County’s makeup and delivery of governmental services is covered by the law).

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b. Deliberation toward decisions

Deliberations toward decisions are covered by the law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5).

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3. Electronic meetings

The definition of public meeting includes meeting conducted by communication equipment, including, but not limited to, conference call, video conference, internet chat, or internet message board. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). The notice for meetings conducted by telephone or other electronic means must include the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and a location where the public can observe and attend. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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a. Conference calls and video/Internet conferencing

The law includes meetings “by means of communication equipment” in addition to meetings “conducted in person.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5).

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b. E-mail

The definition of public meeting includes meeting conducted by communication equipment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). The notice for meetings conducted by telephone or other electronic means must include the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and a location where the public can observe and attend. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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c. Text messages

The definition of public meeting includes meeting conducted by communication equipment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). The notice for meetings conducted by telephone or other electronic means must include the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and a location where the public can observe and attend. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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d. Instant messaging

The definition of public meeting includes meeting conducted by communication equipment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). If a public body plans to meet by internet chat it shall post a notice of the meeting on its website in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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e. Social media and online discussion boards

The definition of public meeting includes meeting conducted by communication equipment. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(5). If a public body plans to meet by internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its website in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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E. Categories of meetings subject to the law

1. Regular meetings

a. Definition

A “public meeting” includes “any meeting of a public governmental body . . . at which any public business is discussed, decided” and must be open. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.010(5), 610.011.2.

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b. Notice

All public governmental bodies must give notice of the time, date, and place of each meeting and its tentative agenda, in a manner reasonably calculated to apprise the public of that information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1. Furthermore, in the event that the meeting is to be conducted by telephone or other electronic means, the notice must specify the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and the designated location where the public may observe and attend the meeting. If a public body plans to meet by Internet chat, Internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its Web site in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public of how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Notice must be given at least twenty-four hours prior to the commencement of any meeting of a governmental body unless for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case as much notice as is reasonably possible must be given. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.2. The twenty-four hour period excludes weekends and holidays when the public facility is closed. Therefore, notice given at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday of a meeting to be held at 8:00 a.m. on Monday is not sufficient if the facility at which the notice is posted is closed over the weekend.

Notice must reasonably apprise the public. Reasonable notice includes making available copies of the notice to any representative of the news media who requests notice of the meetings of a particular government body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Reasonable notice requires posting of notice of meetings of public governmental bodies on a bulletin board or other prominent place that is easily accessible to the public and clearly designated for that purpose at the principal office of the body holding the meeting. If the body has no such office, notice is to be posted at the building in which the meeting is to be held. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1. If a public body plans to meet by Internet chat, Internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its Web site in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public of how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Public governmental bodies must give tentative agendas for meetings in their notices of those meetings. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

In the event that the meeting is to be conducted by telephone or other electronic means, the notice must specify the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and the designated location where the public may observe and attend the meeting. If a public body plans to meet by Internet chat, Internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its Web site in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public of how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law). The court “shall void any action taken in violation of [the law] if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in enforcement of the policy of [the law] outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken at the closed meeting.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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c. Minutes

A journal or minutes of open or closed meetings must be taken and retained by public governmental bodies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.7. At a minimum, the minutes must contain the following information:
a. Date of meeting;
b. Time of meeting;
c. Place of meeting;
d. Members present and absent; and
e. A record of any votes taken. If a roll call vote is taken, the minutes must attribute each “yea” and “nay” vote — or abstinence if not voting — to individual members of the public governmental body.
Minutes of public meetings of public governmental bodies are public records subject to disclosure.

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2. Special or emergency meetings

a. Definition

The law contemplates that it may, in certain instances, be necessary to hold a public meeting on less than twenty-four hours notice, or at a place that is not reasonably accessible to the public, or at a time that is not reasonably convenient to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.3. Such meetings are permitted for good cause.

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b. Notice requirements

All public governmental bodies must give notice of the time, date, and place of each meeting and its tentative agenda, in a manner reasonably calculated to apprise the public of that information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Notice must be given at least twenty-four hours prior to the commencement of any meeting of a governmental body unless for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case as much notice as is reasonably possible must be given. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.2 and .3.

Notice must reasonably apprise the public. Reasonable notice includes making available copies of the notice to any representative of the news media who requests notice of the meetings of a particular government body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Reasonable notice requires posting of notice of meetings of public governmental bodies on a bulletin board or other prominent place which is easily accessible to the public and clearly designated for that purpose at the principal office of the body holding the meeting. If the body has no such office, notice is to be posted at the building in which the meeting is to be held. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Public governmental bodies must give tentative agendas for meetings in their notices of those meetings. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

In the event that the meeting is to be conducted by telephone or other electronic means, the notice must specify the mode by which the meeting will be conducted and the designated location where the public may observe and attend the meeting. If a public body plans to meet by Internet chat, Internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its Web site in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public of how to access that meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law); Strake v. Robinwood West Cmty. Improvement Dist., 473 S.W.3d 642, 645 (Mo. banc 2015) (Court held that community improvement district refusal to provide requested documents related to the district’s settlement of a personal injury lawsuit was part of a conscious design, intent, or plan to violate the Sunshine Law with awareness of the probable consequences, therefore amounting to a purposeful violation, even though the settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause barring disclosure unless required by law or by order of the court, and even though the district’s attorney advised the district not to disclose the settlement agreement).  But see Laut v. City of Arnold, 491 S.W.3d 191 (Mo. 2016) (Court held that to be subject to penalty under § 610.027.3 the governmental body’s purpose must be to violate the Sunshine law, not merely to not produce a government document for trial).

The court “shall void any action taken in violation of [the law] if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in enforcement of the policy of [the law] outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken at the closed meeting.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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c. Minutes

A journal or minutes of open and closed meetings must be taken and retained by public governmental bodies. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.7 &.4. At a minimum, the minutes must contain the following information:
a. Date of meeting;
b. Time of meeting;
c. Place of meeting;
d. Members present and absent;
e. A record of any votes taken. If a roll call vote is taken, the minutes must attribute each “yea” and “nay” vote or abstinence if not voting to individual members of the public governmental body;
f. the nature of the good cause justifying the departure from the normal requirements shall be stated in the minutes.
Minutes of public meetings of public governmental bodies are public records subject to disclosure.

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3. Closed meetings or executive sessions

a. Definition

A “closed meeting” is any meeting closed to the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.010(1). A meeting or vote may be closed only to the extent necessary for the specific reason announced to justify the closed meeting or vote. No business that does not directly relate to the specifically announced reason for the closed meeting or vote may be discussed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.3.

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b. Notice requirements

A public governmental body proposing to hold a closed meeting or vote shall comply with the notice requirements for public meetings set forth above. Notice must be given at least twenty-four hours prior to the commencement of any meeting of a governmental body unless for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical, in which case as much notice as is reasonably possible must be given. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.2 & .4.

Notice must reasonably apprise the public. Reasonable notice includes making available copies of the notice to any representative of the news media who requests notice of the meetings of a particular government body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Reasonable notice requires posting of notice of meetings of public governmental bodies on a bulletin board or other prominent place which is easily accessible to the public and clearly designated for that purpose at the principal office of the body holding the meeting. If the body has no such office, notice is to be posted at the building in which the meeting is to be held. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

Public governmental bodies must give tentative agendas for meetings in their notices of those meetings. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

A public governmental body proposing to hold a closing meeting must give notice of the time, date and place of such closed meeting and the reason for holding it by reference to a specific exception in the Sunshine Law authorizing closure. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.2.

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law); Strake v. Robinwood West Cmty. Improvement Dist., 473 S.W.3d 642, 645 (Mo. banc 2015) (Court held that community improvement district refusal to provide requested documents related to the district’s settlement of a personal injury lawsuit was part of a conscious design, intent, or plan to violate the Sunshine Law with awareness of the probable consequences, therefore amounting to a purposeful violation, even though the settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause barring disclosure unless required by law or by order of the court, and even though the district’s attorney advised the district not to disclose the settlement agreement).  But see Laut v. City of Arnold, 491 S.W.3d 191 (Mo. 2016) (Court held that to be subject to penalty under § 610.027.3 the governmental body’s purpose must be to violate the Sunshine law, not merely to not produce a government document for trial).

The court “shall void any action taken in violation of [the law] if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in enforcement of the policy of [the law] outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken at the closed meeting.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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c. Minutes

Minutes are required for both open and closed meetings. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.7.

The vote of each member on the question of closing the meeting and on the specific reason for closing the meeting must be announced publicly at an open meeting and entered into the minutes of the open meeting. This information is public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.1.

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d. Requirement to meet in public before closing meeting

There must be a public meeting on the decision to close a public meeting. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.1.

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e. Requirement to state statutory authority for closing meetings before closure

The specific statutory reason for closing the meeting must be stated by reference to the statute. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.1.

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f. Tape recording requirements

There is no requirement to record a closed meeting. Closed meetings may not be electronically recorded without permission of the public body holding the meeting, and any person who violates this provision shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.3.

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F. Recording/broadcast of meetings

1. Sound recordings allowed

A public body shall allow for the recording by audiotape, videotape, or other electronic means of any open meeting. A public body may establish guidelines regarding the manner in which such recording is conducted so as to minimize disruption. Recording of a closed meeting may only occur with permission of the public body; violation of this provision is a Class C misdemeanor. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.3.

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2. Photographic recordings allowed

See above.

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G. Access to meeting materials, reports and agendas

Public governmental bodies must give tentative agendas for meetings in their notices of those meetings. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.020.1.

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H. Are there sanctions for noncompliance?

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.4. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that member to pay a civil fine up to $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat.§ 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law); Strake v. Robinwood West Cmty. Improvement Dist., 473 S.W.3d 642, 645 (Mo. banc 2015) (Court held that community improvement district refusal to provide requested documents related to the district’s settlement of a personal injury lawsuit was part of a conscious design, intent, or plan to violate the Sunshine Law with awareness of the probable consequences, therefore amounting to a purposeful violation, even though the settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause barring disclosure unless required by law or by order of the court, and even though the district’s attorney advised the district not to disclose the settlement agreement).  But see Laut v. City of Arnold, 491 S.W.3d 191 (Mo. 2016) (Court held that to be subject to penalty under § 610.027.3 the governmental body’s purpose must be to violate the Sunshine law, not merely to not produce a government document for trial).

The court “shall void any action taken in violation of [the law] if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in enforcement of the policy of [the law] outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken at the closed meeting.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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A. Exemptions in the open meetings statute

1. Character of exemptions

The exemptions enumerated in the Sunshine Law are specific rather than general. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021.

Closed meetings are generally discretionary. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.022.4. (“nothing in sections 610.010 to 610.028 shall be construed to require a public governmental body to hold a closed meeting, record, or vote.”)

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2. Description of each exemption

The Sunshine Law exemptions apply to both records and meetings.

  1. Litigation.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(l).

Scope. The so-called “litigation” exception encompasses more than litigation.

  • records relating to legal actions, causes of action, or litigation involving a public governmental body; and
  • confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys; and
  • legal work product. See Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351, 353-354 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (held settlement agreement between board of education and superintendent of school district was not a confidential or privileged communication between a public governmental body and its attorneys); but see Calvert v. Mehlville R-IX Sch. Dist., 44 S.W.3d 455 (Mo.Ct.App. 2001) (holding that school board must acknowledge existence of settlement agreement in response to a request, but pursuant to confidentiality clause in the agreement could refuse to disclose its contents); State ex rel. Moore v. Brewster, 116 S.W.3d 630 (Mo.Ct.App. 2003) (holding that letter from school board attorney concerning investigation of board members was legal work product and the trial court erred in finding that the board president violated the Sunshine Law by refusing to release a copy of the letter to the board members under investigation).

Mere reference to litigation is not sufficient to trigger this exception. See Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 330 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988)(litigation exception applies to analytical work product, but not to general descriptions of legal services rendered appearing on city attorneys’ itemized monthly billing statements).

Exception Removed Upon Final Disposition of Litigation. Any minutes, vote or settlement agreement relating to legal actions, causes of action, or litigation involving a public governmental body or any agent or entity representing the public body’s interests or acting as its insured, shall be made public upon final disposition of the matter voted upon, or upon the signing by the parties of the settlement agreement, unless prior to final disposition, the settlement agreement is ordered closed by a court after a written finding that the adverse impact to a plaintiff or plaintiffs to the action clearly outweighs the public policy considerations enumerated in § 610.011. However, the amount of any monies paid by, or on behalf of, the public governmental body shall be disclosed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1), modifying the holding in Tuft v. City of St. Louis, 936 S.W.2d 113, 119 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996). Also, a public or quasi-public official does not have the same right of privacy as an ordinary citizen, and so cannot rely on such a right to oppose a request to unseal court records relating to the official’s compensation. Pulitzer Publishing Co. v. Transit Casualty Co., 43 S.W.3d 293 (Mo. banc 2001) (in the context of a special deputy receiver appointed to oversee the liquidation of an insurance company).

Eminent Domain/Condemnation. When a public governmental body undertakes to exercise the power of eminent domain, the vote must be made public immediately following the action on the motion to authorize institution of a condemnation action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1).

  1. Real Estate.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(2)

Scope. Government meetings and records relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body may be closed. Id. Such records, including minutes of closed meetings, may be closed even if no actual lease, purchase or sale of real estate results. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995).

Exception Removed Upon Completion of Transaction. Minutes of closed meetings, votes or other public records approving the contract relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body must be made public upon execution of the lease, purchase or sale of the real estate. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995) (holding that city properly closed minutes of closed council meetings were agreements to operate city-owned landfill were discussed with independent contractors until agreement was approved).

  1. Employment.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).

Scope. Government meetings and records relating to certain individual personnel decisions may be closed, provided personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded:

  • hiring of an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • firing of an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • disciplining an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • promoting an employee of a public governmental body.

Personal Information About the Employee. The above records may be closed only if personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded. “Personal” information is defined to include information relating to the performance or merit of individual employees.

When Information May be Made Public. Any vote on a final decision made by a public governmental body, to hire, fire, promote or discipline one of its employees must be made available to the public within 72 hours of the close of the meeting where such action occurs, provided, however, that the affected employee is entitled to prompt notice before such decision is made available to the public.

  1. State Militia or National Guard.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(4). Meetings and records relating to the state militia or National Guard may be closed. There are no reported decisions relating to this exception. It is apparent that any such meeting or record, even if it does not pertain to security matters, falls within this exception.

  1. Non-Judicial Mental Health or Physical Health Proceedings.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(5). Meetings and records relating to non-judicial mental or physical health proceedings involving identifiable persons, including medical, psychiatric, psychological, or alcoholism or drug dependency diagnosis or treatment may be closed.

  1. Scholastic Records.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(6). Government meetings and records relating to scholastic probation, expulsion or graduation of identifiable individuals, including records of individual test or examination scores, may be closed.

  1. Welfare.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(8). Government meetings and records relating to welfare cases of identifiable individuals may be closed.

  1. Public Employee Negotiations.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(9). Government meetings and records relating to preparation, including any discussions or work product, on behalf of a public governmental body or its representatives for negotiations with employee groups may be closed. See State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285 (Mo. Ct. App. 1979) (collective bargaining sessions of city board of public utilities not required to be open to the public).

  1. Specifications for Competitive Bidding.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(11). Specifications for competitive bidding, until either the specifications are officially approved by the public governmental body or the specifications are published for bid may be closed. See Hanten v. School Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 810-811 (8th Cir. 1999) (conclusion that school board members meeting privately did not intend to violate the Sunshine Law was supported by § 611.021(11) of the Sunshine Law, which permitted them to meet in closed session to discuss bid specifications).

  1. Anti-terrorism Records.

“Operational guidelines, policies and specific response plans developed, adopted or maintained by any public agency responsible for law enforcement, public safety, first response, or public health for use in responding to or preventing any critical incident which is or appears to be terrorist in nature and has the potential to endanger individual public safety or health. Financial records related to the procurement of or expenditures relating to operational guidelines, policies or plans purchased with public funds shall be open. When seeking to close information pursuant to this exception, the public governmental body shall affirmatively state in writing that disclosure would impair the public governmental body’s ability to protect the security or safety of persons or real property, and shall in the same writing state that the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure of the records.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(18).

Records relating to existing or proposed security systems and structural plans or real property owned or released by a public governmental body may be a closed record, however, records related to the procurement of security systems purchased with public funds shall be open. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(19).

  1. Computer System Information.

Records identifying the configuration of components or the operation of a computer, computer system, computer or telecommunications network of a public governmental body that would allow unauthorized access to or disruption of same may be closed; however, procurement information, including moneys paid, shall be open, and this provision cannot be used to limit or deny access to public records in a file or database. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(21).

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B. Any other statutory requirements for closed or open meetings

Other statutory requirements for closed meetings are based on the type of information or records discussed. If a statute exempts from disclosure a particular type of record, it may also require a meeting or portion of a meeting where that record would be discussed to be closed.

“Records which are protected from disclosure by law” may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(14). See Oregon County R-IV School District v. Le Mon, 739 S.W.2d 553, 557 (Mo.Ct.App. 1987) (language in the Sunshine Law “except as otherwise provided by law” means except as otherwise provided by statute); Pulitzer Publishing Company v. Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System, 927 S.W.2d 477, 480 (Mo.Ct.App. 1996) (a regulation promulgated pursuant to an agency’s general rule making authority is not within the “except as otherwise provided by law” exception to the Sunshine Law); Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services v. Allan, 787 S.W.2d 291, 292 (Mo.Ct.App. 1990) (a record exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., is not exempt from the Missouri Sunshine Law unless a specific state statute expressly so provides).

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C. Court mandated opening, closing

The courts have not created judicial exceptions to the open meetings law.

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III. Meeting categories - open or closed

A. Adjudications by administrative bodies

Proceedings before an agency in which legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties are required by law to be determined after hearing are called “contested cases” under the Missouri Administrative Procedure Act, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 536.010(4). Hearings and evidence in contested cases are generally open to the public unless one of the enumerated exceptions in the Sunshine Law apply. The notice requirements for contested cases are set forth in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 536.067.

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1. Deliberations closed, but not fact-finding

There is no specific provision on this.

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2. Only certain adjudications closed, i.e. under certain statutes

There is no specific provision on this.

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B. Budget sessions

Meetings of a public governmental body to discuss its budget must be open to the public. Budget sessions generally do not fall within an exception to the Sunshine Law. See also The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 102 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (holding that informal meeting of finance committee of city council, in which budget proposal was discussed, violated the Sunshine Law); Hudson v. School District of Kansas City, 578 S.W.2d 301, 308 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (holding that meeting of school district to discuss furlough of several hundred teachers and administrative employees in order to solve $7.3 million budget deficit should have been open to the public under the Sunshine Law).

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C. Business and industry relations

Meetings in which business and industry relations are discussed by a public governmental body must be open to the public unless a particular exception in the Sunshine Law applies. For example, specifications for competitive bidding, sealed bids and related documents may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.021 (11) & (12).

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D. Federal programs

Meetings in which participation in federal programs is discussed by a public governmental body must be open to the public.

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E. Financial data of public bodies

Financial data and meetings to discuss financial data of public governmental bodies must be open to the public.

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F. Financial data, trade secrets, or proprietary data of private corporations and individuals

Meetings relating to scientific and technological innovations in which the owner has a proprietary interest are closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(15). Corporate and financial information of private corporations and individuals are closed by a variety of statutes:

Any documents acquired by the State Veterinarian that reveal the financial condition of a licensee are confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 277.120.

Tax returns and Department of Revenue reports, containing information received by the Department of Revenue in connection with the administration of tax laws are made confidential by Mo.Rev.Stat. § 32.057.1, and can only be disclosed under certain circumstances enumerated in § 32.057.2.

Generally, corporate information obtained by the Secretary of State or the Supervisor of Corporation Registration is required to keep confidential information obtained during the course of examining the books and records of any corporation. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 351.665.

Information obtained from financial institutions (banks, trust companies, small loan businesses) by the Missouri Director of Finance in the course of examinations is generally deemed confidential. Confidential information includes information relating to private accounts, affairs and transactions, and financial information of assets and liabilities. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 361.080.

The books and records of Savings and Loan Associations pertaining to accounts and loans of account holders, borrowers, and stockholders are to be held confidential by the Director of the Division of Finance, examiners, and other State representatives pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 369.099.

Information obtained from savings and loan associations obtained by examiners of the Division of Finance and Examiners is generally confidential. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 409.830.

Generally, all information retained by the Missouri Commissioner of Securities is public information and must be available for examination by the public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 409.830. However, information obtained in the course of private investigations by the Commissioner of Securities may be closed to the public. Id.

Records submitted to the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Economic Development, Export and Infrastructure Board, or to a Regional Planning Commission relating to financial investments in a business, sales projections or other business plan information, are closed under Mo.Rev.Stat. § 620.014.

Risk Based Capital (RBC) Reports are comprehensive financial plans that insurance companies are required to submit annually to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Missouri Department of Insurance (on or before March 1). Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.1252. RBC Reports are confidential but the director may decide to share the Reports with other regulatory agencies, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and law enforcement authorities, provided that the recipient agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the document and its information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 375.1267.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires that any owner or operator of an underground storage tank furnish the Department with information relating to the tanks. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 319.117. Generally, records containing that information are to be made available to the public. Id. However, if a person demonstrates to the Department that public disclosure of such records would divulge commercial or financial information entitled to protection under state law, the Department will deem the records confidential. Id.

Information submitted to the Land Reclamation Commission in connection with permits for coal exploration may be withheld from the public if it constitutes trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 444.845.2.

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 198.032 provides that medical, social, personal, or financial records of any nursing home resident is confidential, only to be released upon a court order, or to certain enumerated agencies, law enforcement officials, or the person to whom the records pertain.

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G. Gifts, trusts and honorary degrees

Meetings of public governmental bodies to discuss granting or receiving gifts, trusts and honorary degrees should be public.

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H. Grand jury testimony by public employees

If grand jury proceedings are closed, grand jury testimony by public employees is also closed.

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I. Licensing examinations

Testing and examination materials, before the test or examination is given or, if it is to be given again, before so given again, may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(7).

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J. Litigation, pending litigation or other attorney-client privileges

The so-called “litigation” exception, Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1), encompasses more than litigation. The following information is considered closed:

  • records relating to legal actions, causes of action, or litigation involving a public governmental body; and
  • confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys; and
  • legal work product. See City of Grandview v. Missouri Gas Energy, 2012 WL 12897093 (W.D. Mo. 2012) (explaining that although 610.021(1) provides attorney-client and work-product privileges when the public brings an action pursuant to the Sunshine Law, those privileges do not extend to actions independent of the Sunshine Law).

Mere reference to litigation is not sufficient to trigger this exception. See Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 330 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (litigation exception applies to analytical work product, but not to general descriptions of legal services rendered appearing on city attorney’s itemized monthly billing statements). After final disposition of a litigation matter, any vote relating to that litigation involving a public governmental body must be made public. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(1).

Upon final disposition of litigation involving a public governmental body, the body must make public its minutes of closed meetings and its votes. Other confidential or privileged communications and legal work product may remain closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(l).

When a public governmental body is undertaking to exercise the power of eminent domain, the vote must be made public immediately following the action on the motion to authorize institution of a condemnation action. Id.

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K. Negotiations and collective bargaining of public employees

Government records relating to preparation, including any discussions or work product, on behalf of a public governmental body or its representatives for negotiations with employee groups may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(9). See State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (collective bargaining sessions of city board of public utilities not required to be open to the public).

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1. Any sessions regarding collective bargaining

State ex rel. Board of Public Utilities v. Crow, 592 S.W.2d 285 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (collective bargaining sessions of city board of public utilities not required to be open to the public).

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2. Only those between the public employees and the public body

L. Parole board meetings, or meetings involving parole board decisions

Any meeting, record, or vote, of proceedings involving probation, parole, or pardon may be a closed meeting, closed record, or closed vote. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 217.670.5.

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M. Patients, discussions on individual patients

Meetings of a public governmental body to discuss individual patients may be closed pursuant to Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(5).

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N. Personnel matters

Government meetings relating to certain individual personnel decisions may be closed, provided personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded:

  • hiring of an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • firing of an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • disciplining an employee of a public governmental body, and
  • promoting an employee of a public governmental body.

The above meetings may be closed only if personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded. “Personal” information is defined to include information relating to the performance or merit of individual employees.

Any vote on a final decision made by a public governmental body, to hire, fire, promote or discipline one of its employees shall be made available to the public within 72 hours of the close of the meeting where such action occurs, provided, however, that the affected employee is entitled to prompt notice of the decision before such decision is made available to the public. See Guyer v. City of Kirkwood, 38 S.W.3d 412, 414 (Mo. 2001) (records of internal investigations into criminal misconduct may not be closed, pursuant to 610.100); Paskon v. Salem Memorial Hospital District, 806 S.W.2d 417, 423-424 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (holding that board of directors of hospital district could conduct closed meeting to discuss suspension of physician’s hospital staff privileges); Librach v. Cooper, 778 S.W.2d 351 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (holding that records reflecting severance pay paid to former superintendent of public school district are public records subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 331 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (mere identification of personnel matters within a description of legal services rendered on a city attorney’s itemized monthly billing statement is not sufficient to place the statement within the employment exception); Hudson v. School District of Kansas City, 578 S.W.2d 301, 309 (Mo.Ct.App. 1979) (meeting in which school board decided to furlough several hundred probationary teachers and reassign a large number of administrative employees did not fall within the employment exception because the impelling motivation was financial. The Board was attempting to solve a huge budget deficit. The individual employees affected were not discussed).

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1. Interviews for public employment

Meetings relating to hiring, firing or disciplining employees of public governmental bodies can be closed when information relating to the performance or merit of the individual employee is discussed.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).

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2. Disciplinary matters, performance or ethics of public employees

Meetings relating to hiring, firing or disciplining employees of public governmental bodies can be closed when information relating to the performance or merit of the individual employee is discussed.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).

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3. Dismissal, considering dismissal of public employees

Meetings relating to hiring, firing or disciplining employees of public governmental bodies can be closed when information relating to the performance or merit of the individual employee is discussed.  Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(3).

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O. Real estate negotiations

Government records relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body may be closed. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(2). Such records, including minutes of closed meetings, may be closed even if no actual lease, purchase or sale of real estate results. See State ex rel Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 S.W.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995).

Before a “real estate” record may be closed, the public governmental body must first find that public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration for that real estate. § 610.021(2); State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, supra.

Minutes of closed meetings, votes or other public records approving the contract relating to the leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a public governmental body must be made public upon execution of the lease, purchase or sale of the real estate. See State ex rel. Birk v. City of Jackson, 907 SW.2d 181, 187 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995) (holding that city properly closed minutes of closed council meetings held to discuss agreement with independent contractors to operate landfill owned by city until agreement was approved); City of St. Louis v. City of Bridgeton, 806 S.W.2d 717, 719 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (holding that the meaning of the term “transaction” in the real estate exception is broad enough to encompass multi-lot bulk real estate acquisition or buyout program by public governmental body, and contracts on individual lots need not be available for public inspection until buyout program is complete and knowledge of purchase prices on individual lots would not adversely affect subsequent contracts); Tipton v. Barton, 747 S.W.2d 325, 331 (Mo.Ct.App. 1988) (holding that mere reference in a public record to a real estate transaction is not sufficient to trigger application of the real estate exception; the exception applies only where the actual terms of any real estate transaction or a negotiating position of the public governmental body is reflected in the record).

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P. Security, national and/or state, of buildings, personnel or other

Operational guidelines, policies and specific response plans developed, adopted, or maintained by any public agency responsible for law enforcement, public safety, first response, or public health for use in responding to or preventing any critical incident which is or appears to be terrorist in nature and which has the potential to endanger individual or public safety or health. Financial records related to the procurement of or expenditures relating to operational guidelines, policies or plans purchased with public funds shall be open. When seeking to close information pursuant to this exception, the public governmental body shall affirmatively state in writing that disclosure would impair the public governmental body’s ability to protect the security or safety of persons or real property, and shall in the same writing state that the public interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure of the records. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(18).

Records relating to existing or proposed security systems and structural plans or real property owned or released by a public governmental body may be a closed record; however, records related to the procurement of security systems purchased with public funds shall be open. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(19).

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Q. Students, discussions on individual students

Personally identifiable student records maintained by public schools are excluded from the definition of public record and therefore not open to the general public. If a student is younger than 18 years old, such records are open for inspection only to that student’s parents, guardian or other custodian. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.021(6). If a student is 18 years or older, such records are also open for inspection to that student. Id. Federal law provides similar rights and imposes similar restrictions.

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IV. Procedure for asserting right of access

A. When to challenge

1. Does the law provide expedited procedure for reviewing request to attend upcoming meetings?

The law does not specifically provide for an expedited hearing. The law does permit injunctive relief and the general Missouri procedures for handling temporary restraining orders provides for expedited hearings.

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2. When barred from attending

If a person is barred from attending a meeting of a governmental body, the body should be requested to state on the record the statutory reason for closing the meeting and the vote on the closure must be held at a public meeting.

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3. To set aside decision

Where a court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body has violated the Sunshine Law and that, under the facts of a particular case, the public interest in enforcement of the Sunshine Law outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of any action taken in a closed meeting, record or vote, the court is to void the action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. See SSM Health Care v. Mo. Health Facilities Review Committee, 1994 Mo.App. LEXIS 700 (Mo.Ct.App. April 26, 1994) (holding that agency vote would not be voided where agency could only reach the same result if there were a new vote), rev’d on other grounds, 894 S.W.2d 674 (Mo. 1995); State ex rel. Page v. Reorganized School District R- VI of Christian County, 765 S.W.2d 317, 322 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (held that school board violated Sunshine Law when it conducted meetings between committee and two lowest bidders on construction project, but that board’s award of contract to second lowest bidder would not be voided); Hawkins v. City of Fayette, 604 S.W.2d 716, 723-725 (Mo.Ct.App. 1980) (holding that special meeting of board of aldermen called by mayor to discuss his additional compensation without notice to public violated Sunshine Law, but was not basis for rendering ordinance subsequently enacted void).

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4. For ruling on future meetings

The court may rule on the closure of future meetings provided that the dispute satisfies the requirement of a justiciable controversy. If the closure is capable of repetition, this requirement will be satisfied.

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5. Other

There are no other provisions.

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B. How to start

1. Where to ask for ruling

Rulings are made by the circuit court for the county in which the governmental body has its principal place of business. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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a. Administrative forum

There is no agency procedure for challenging a closed meeting. Informal requests to higher levels within the agency are not required before instituting a judicial challenge, but such informal requests may sometimes be successful.

Less formal governmental bodies are often not aware that the Sunshine Law applies to their meetings or of the procedures to follow. Often, an informal, non-confrontational, approach may be effective.

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b. State attorney general

The state attorney general will issue advisory opinions at the request of the governmental body. The attorney general does not generally initiate independent actions — although authorized to do so — against a governmental body, but has joined as an amicus in certain situations. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1

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1. Applicable time limits

2. Contents of request

3. How long should you wait for a response?

c. Court

The Sunshine Law specifically allows for a court challenge. Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 610.027 and 610.030.

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2. Applicable time limits

Suits for enforcement of the Sunshine Law should be brought within one year from the date the violation is ascertainable. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. Regardless of the date on which the violation became ascertainable, suit must be brought within two years of the violation. Id.

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3. Contents of request for ruling

No formal requirement.

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4. How long should you wait for a response

Because there is no formal administrative procedure, you should allow sufficient time to obtain relief in court and not depend on the administrative process.

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5. Are subsequent or concurrent measures (formal or informal) available?

Court action is the only specific relief authorized by the Sunshine Law.

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C. Court review of administrative decision

1. Who may sue?

Any aggrieved person, taxpayer, or citizen of Missouri, the Attorney General or prosecuting attorney may seek judicial enforcement of the requirements of the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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2. Will the court give priority to the pleading?

The Sunshine Law does not require that access cases be given priority on court dockets. However, most such cases under the Sunshine Law request injunctive relief. Frequently, motions for preliminary injunctions are heard on an expedited basis. Once a hearing is set on a motion for preliminary injunction, a request to consolidate the hearing on the merits with the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is often granted.

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3. Pro se possibility, advisability

Pro se actions to enforce the Sunshine Law are not prohibited. However, in light of the highly technical arguments frequently advanced in support of and in opposition to disclosure, advice and participation of counsel is recommended.

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4. What issues will the court address?

The court will consider the reasons for the closed meeting and, in certain instances, future meetings. The Sunshine Law authorizes a public governmental body which is in doubt about the legality of closing a particular meeting, record, or vote to bring a suit at its own expense in the circuit court of the county of its principal place of business to ascertain the propriety of any such action. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.6. The public governmental body may also seek a formal opinion of the attorney general. Id. A court will not provide declaratory relief unless there is an actual meeting, record or vote at issue. See Fulson v. Kansas City Star Company, 816 S.W.2d 297, 299 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991) (denied declaratory relief sought by board of directors of school district and newspaper because questions were abstract, and did not relate to particular meetings, records, or votes of the school district).

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a. Open the meeting

Courts can open meetings.

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b. Invalidate the decision

A court shall invalidate any action taken in violation of sections 610.010 to 610.026, if the court finds the public interest in enforcement of the Sunshine Law outweighs the public interest in sustaining the action taken. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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c. Order future meetings open

Courts can order future meetings open.

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5. Pleading format

An action under the Sunshine Law does not have any particular pleading requirements different from any other civil action.

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6. Time limit for filing suit

A suit to enforce the Sunshine Law should be brought within one year from the time the violation is ascertainable. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. Regardless of the date on which the violation became ascertainable, suit must be brought within two years of the violation. Id.

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7. What court

Suit must be brought in the county in which the public governmental body has its principal place of business. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.1.

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8. Judicial remedies available

The court may issue a declaratory judgment holding that the public governmental body violated the Sunshine Law, and issue an injunction prohibiting further violations. See Laut v. City of Arnold, 491 S.W.3d 191, 208 (Mo. 2016) (reiterating the fact that circuit courts “have jurisdiction to issue injunctions to enforce the provisions of sections 610.010 to 610.115”) (citations omitted). However, the court may only enter a declaratory judgment in the context of a specific factual matrix and actual justiciable controversy. See Fulson v. Kansas City Star Co., 816 S.W.2d 297, 299 (Mo.Ct.App. 1991); Buckner v. Burnett, 908 S.W.2d 908 (Mo.Ct.App. 1995). Typically in a suit for judicial enforcement of the Sunshine Law in which a public governmental body is determined to have violated the statute, a court will enter an injunction compelling compliance both as to past violations (i.e., require that a public record be made available for public inspection) and future violations (i.e., require that similar public meetings or records be open to the public in the future). However, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District has held that the Sunshine Law does not provide a remedy in the nature of an injunction relating to future requests. Buckner v. Burnett, supra. Rather, the Sunshine Law merely provides a remedy for past violations. Id. In the event a public governmental body repeats the same violation, that new violation could be deemed a purposeful violation of the Sunshine Law, affording the additional relief, including attorneys fees and fines which are discussed below. Id.

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9. Availability of court costs and attorney's fees

A court may order a public governmental body or its members to pay all costs and reasonable attorney fees to any party successfully establishing a purposeful or knowing violation of the Sunshine Law. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3-.4.

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10. Fines

Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body purposefully violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that body or that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $5,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. Where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body knowingly violated the Sunshine Law, it may order that body or that member to pay a civil fine in an amount not more than $1,000. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3. See The Kansas City Star v. Shields, 771 S.W.2d 101, 105 (Mo.Ct.App. 1989) (affirmed a fine imposed on a member of city council who failed to leave a meeting of the council’s finance committee that violated the Sunshine Law). The amount of the penalty shall be determined based on the size of the jurisdiction, the seriousness of the offense, and previous Sunshine Law violations by that member or body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.3.  The court “shall void any action taken in violation of [the law] if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in enforcement of the policy of [the law] outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the of the action taken at the closed meeting.” Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5.

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11. Other penalties

In addition to injunctive relief to preclude future violations of the Sunshine Law, under certain circumstances a court may void an action taken by the public governmental body. Mo.Rev.Stat. § 610.027.5. First, the court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the public governmental body violated the Sunshine Law. Second, the court must find under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in the enforcement of the policy of the Sunshine Law outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken in the closed meeting, record, or vote. Id.

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D. Appealing initial court decisions

1. Appeal routes

Appeal is to the Missouri Court of Appeals for the applicable district.

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2. Time limits for filing appeals

The notice of appeal must be filed within ten days after the judgment becomes final, which occurs thirty days after the judgment is entered. Mo.R.Civ.P. 81.05(a). Missouri law, however, provides for an accelerated route to the Court of Appeals through an application for a writ of prohibition where irreparable harm would result from waiting for the full appeals process to commence. In extreme cases, the Court of Appeals may dispense with formal time limits for filing of a reply to the writ application altogether.

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3. Contact of interested amici

The appearance of amici are permitted both in the circuit court and on appeal. Interested amici will depend on the nature of the records sought. The Missouri Attorney General has appeared as amici in appropriate cases. If the decision of the court is directly contrary to a formal opinion of the attorney general or the attorney general’s handbook on open meetings and records, the attorney general may enter an appearance to support his interpretation of the statute.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press often files amicus briefs in cases involving significant media law issues before a state’s highest court.

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V. Asserting a right to comment

There is no right to comment under Missouri law.

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A. Is there a right to participate in public meetings?

There is no such right in the Sunshine Law.

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B. Must a commenter give notice of intentions to comment?

There is no provision on this.

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C. Can a public body limit comment?

Typically, yes. There is no Sunshine Law provision on this.

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D. How can a participant assert rights to comment?

There is no provision on this.

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E. Are there sanctions for unapproved comment?

There is no provision on this.

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Appendix