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4. For ruling on future meetings

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  • Alabama

    If a public meeting has been closed wrongfully, the best time to attempt to secure an agreement or ruling to keep similar meetings open in the future will be as soon as possible after the wrongful closure.

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  • Alaska

    It is possible to get a ruling regarding the applicability of the law to future meetings, in the form of a declaratory judgment. This is not provided for in the open meetings law itself, but is a procedure generally available to litigants using the court system. This would require that there be a sufficiently real and concrete dispute to allow the court to properly litigate the question, and not simply a speculative concern about a possible violation in the future. The Alaska Supreme Court has held that the mootness doctrine is generally inapplicable in cases involving the Open Meetings Act. See, e.g., ACCFT, Local No. 2404 v. University of Alaska, 677 P.2d 886, 889 (Alaska 1984). There, the court noted that it generally has the discretion to resolve particular questions of significant public interest despite the fact that the parties have settled their dispute, and that many public bodies are in need of guidance as to the proper construction of the open meetings law. The court said that "the mootness bar is especially inappropriate in OMA cases. The public disclosure of the nature and circumstances of an OMA violation is an important component of the remedy available under the statute." Ibid. When the legislature amended the law to impose the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an action void decisions reached as a result of a process including Open Meetings Act violations, there was specific discussion about the fact that the limitation on this particular remedy would not affect other remedies available to litigants, such as the right to seek a declaratory judgment that the open meetings law had been violated. In Mullins v. Local Boundary Commission, 226 P.3d 1012 (Alaska 2010), the Alaska Supreme Court explained and narrowed the OMA exception to the mootness doctrine articulated in ACCFT. The plaintiff in Mullins alleged that the LBC violated the Open Meetings Act by using information gathered during a private tour of a proposed borough in making its decision. Unlike in ACCFT, the Court said, the LBC's approval decision in Mullins was not reaffirmed at a curative meeting, and it is not still in effect. “Mullins, unlike the plaintiff in ACCFT, cannot obtain the substantive relief she seeks because the LBC's decision allegedly made in violation of the OMA has been voided by subsequent events (defeat of the proposed action in a voter initiative]. Where a decision is still in effect when an OMA claim is brought, the holding in ACCFT requires that a court review the alleged OMA violation even if a curative meeting was held. Where a decision is no longer in effect, as is the case here, a court should conduct a standard mootness analysis to determine whether to address the OMA claim. In this case, for the reasons described above, Mullins's public participation challenge to LBC's private car tour as a violation of the OMA is moot and we will not consider it.” 226 P.3d at1020.

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  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    The court may issue a declaratory judgment that a closed meeting held in a given situation would violate the FOIA and order that future meetings be held in compliance with the act. See Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-107(c); Depoyster v. Cole, 298 Ark. 203, 766 S.W.2d 606 (1989), overruled on other grounds by Harris v. City of Ft. Smith, 366 Ark. 277, 234 S.W.3d 875 (2006); Ark. Gazette Co. v. Pickens, 258 Ark. 69, 522 S.W.2d 350 (1975). However, a party must exhaust administrative remedies prior to seeking such relief. Rehab Hosp. Servs. Corp. v. Delta-Hills Health Sys. Agency Inc., 285 Ark. 397, 687 S.W.2d 840 (1985). A court has discretion in deciding whether to entertain an action for declaratory judgment, Jegley v. Picado, 349 Ark. 600, 612-13, 80 S.W.3d 332, 337-38 (2002), and the presence of factual issues may make the case unsuitable for declaratory relief. See Bankers & Shippers Ins. Co. v. Kildow, 9 Ark. App. 86, 654 S.W.2d 600 (1983).

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  • California

    Both Acts provide for actions by mandamus, injunctive and declaratory relief to stop threatened violations of the statutory open meeting laws or to determine the applicability of the Acts to threatened future actions by the state body or the legislative body of a local agency. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11130(a)(Bagley-Keene Act); 54960(a) (Brown Act).

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  • Colorado

    Not Applicable.

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  • Connecticut

    FOIA does not contain any provisions for ruling on future meetings.

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  • Delaware

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • District of Columbia

    A court may order future meetings to be made public if it finds that a public body plans to hold a closed meeting in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  D.C. Code Ann. § 2-579(c)(2).

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  • Florida

    Future violations may be enjoined by the court so long as one violation has been found and it appears either: (1) that future violation will bear a resemblance to the past violation; or (2) that the danger of future violations can be anticipated from the course of conduct in the past.  See Board of Public Instruction of Broward County v. Doran, 224, So. 2d 693 (Fla. 1969); Wood v. Marston, 442 So. 2d 934 (Fla. 1983) (trial court's permanent injunction affirmed); see also Leach-Wells v. City of Bradenton, 734 So. 2d 1168, 1170 n.1 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (noting that, had a citizen appealed the trial court's denial of temporary injunction, appellate court “would have had the opportunity to . . . direct that the City be enjoined from entering into a final contract with the developer until after such time as the ranking of the proposals could be accomplished in compliance with the Sunshine Law.”)

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  • Georgia

    Georgia's superior courts have discretion to grant injunctive relief in actions to enforce compliance with the Act.

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  • Hawaii

    A ruling on whether a future meeting must be open may be possible, see id. § 92-12(c), as long as proof of controversy exists. One could also seek an advisory opinion from the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the particular agency scheduling the meeting.

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  • Illinois

    An action may be brought within 60 days prior to a challenged meeting. See 5 ILCS 120/3(a).

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  • Indiana

    The aggrieved party may seek injunctions against “threatened or future violations.” Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-7(a)(2); see also Common Council of City of Peru v. Peru Daily Tribune, 440 N.E.2d 726, 733 (Ind. Ct. App. 1982) (holding that proposed executive sessions threatened violation of the Open Door Law and granting injunction); Marion-Adams Sch. Corp. v. Boone, 840 N.E.2d 462, 468 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006) (granting declaratory judgment to prevent violation of Open Door Law).

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  • Iowa

    Not specified.

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  • Kansas

    Not specifically addressed under KOMA. Perceived determination of the reporter or other person seeking access is essential to maintain the body’s focus on compliance. Officials sometimes respond to ideological arguments for openness.

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  • Kentucky

    A court cannot enjoin in general terms future violations of the Open Meetings Act. Fiscal Court v. Courier-Journal, 554 S.W.2d 72 (Ky. 1977). The Open Meetings Act does not specifically contemplate challenges to future meetings. However, Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.848(1) empowers Circuit Courts to enforce the Open Meetings Act “by injunction or other appropriate order on application of any person.”

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  • Maine

    A declaratory judgment may also be sought to determine that future meetings are open to the public (or that a body is, for example, subject to the open meetings law).

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  • Maryland

    Because the court is authorized to rule on violations of the notice requirement and to require compliance with the Act, the court has the power to rule on issues relevant to future meetings. See § 3-401(b)(1)(i)-(ii).

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  • Massachusetts

    The statute does not appear to authorize general order that future meetings be open. However, the courts have entered orders that governmental bodies shall hereafter comply with the Open Meeting Law and/or that matters considered in improper executive session be reconsidered in public.

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  • Minnesota

    Courts have issued declaratory judgments with respect to future meetings.

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  • Montana

    Prospective relief is not favored by the courts because whether a matter is private must always be made on a case-by-case basis. See Havre Daily News v. City of Havre, 2006 MT 215, 333 Mont. 331, 143 P.3d 864.

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  • Nebraska

    Open Meetings Act does not provide for ruling on future meetings. As a matter of equity law, court may not enjoin future violations of Open Meetings Act unless reasonable probability of specific future violations is proved. Grein v. Board of Education, 343 N.W.2d 718 (1984).

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  • Nevada

    The law states that an injunction may be attained to require compliance with the law. NRS. 241.037(1).

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  • New Hampshire

    Yes, RSA 91-A:8,III authorizes the court “to enjoin future violations of this chapter.”

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  • New Jersey

    Any person may apply to the Superior Court for a declaratory ruling on access to future meetings of a public body where it can be shown that there is a pattern or practice of noncompliance with the provisions of the Sunshine Law. See N.J.S.A. 10:4-16.

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  • New Mexico

    A court could have the general authority to address future meetings.

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  • New York

    An aggrieved person may commence an Article 78 proceeding or an action for declaratory judgment and/or injunctive relief. N.Y. Pub. Off. Law § 107(1) (McKinney 1988).
    As part of the relief granted, courts have ordered a public body to admit the general public to public meetings in the future and have enjoined the public body from excluding the public from future meetings other than legitimately convened executive sessions.

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  • North Carolina

    G.S. § 143-318.16 allows a party to seek mandatory injunctive relief prohibiting future violations of the law.

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  • Ohio

    When a public body has already decided to close a future meeting, or threatens to close a future meeting, the person seeking to attend may commence an injunction action in common pleas court. Generally, an injunction action in common pleas court will be treated expeditiously. Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(I)(1).

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  • Oklahoma

    If a person is able to have the appropriate government agency or official to make the request, an Attorney General ruling could be obtained on the legality of a meeting of a public body. See 74 O.S. § 18b(e). If a controversy exists and is continuing, then declaratory relief could be available. See 12 O.S. §§ 1651 et seq.

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  • Oregon

    Yes, the court may rule on whether future meetings must comply with the statute.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Yes. Declaratory relief.

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  • South Carolina

    Injunctive relief could include a prohibition against future illegal executive session meetings. Business License Opposition Committee v. Sumter County, 426 S.E.2d 745 (S.C. 1992).

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  • South Dakota

    As soon as possible with declaratory judgment action. SDCL Chap. 21-24.

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  • Tennessee

    Permanent injunction for this purpose is also available. T.C.A. § 8-44-106.

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  • Texas

    The Act explicitly provides that an “interested person, including a member of the news media,” can bring an action for mandamus or injunction to ‘prevent” a “threatened violation” of the Act.  Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.142. Concerned parties may therefore seek court rulings on future meetings that threaten a violation. See id.

     

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  • Utah

    Any person denied a right under the Open Meetings Act may bring an action to compel compliance with the Act, to enjoin an agency’s violation of the Act, or to determine the applicability of the Act to discussions or decisions by a public body. Utah Code § 52-4-303(3).

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  • Vermont

    Although the statute appears to allow for it through a suit for declaratory judgment, there are no reported cases of a court ordering that a meeting be opened prior to the meeting having already been held.  See 1 V.S.A. § 314(c).  The most common relief ordered for a violation of the Open Meeting Law is to invalidate the decision and order that the public body hold a new meeting that complies with the requirements of the statute.  See, e.g.Moorcroft v. Town of Brookfield, No. 147-7-10, 2011 Vt. Super. LEXIS 81, *8 (Vt. Super. Orange County Nov. 8, 2011); Kevan v. Town of Randolph Selectboard, No. 137-7-05 2006 Vt. Super. LEXIS 7, *12 (Vt. Super. Orange County July 31, 2006).

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  • Virginia

    The individual may petition the court for injunctive relief in accordance with the Act's enforcement provisions. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3713. Note that the court will not award injunctive relief where the violations are not willful and substantial. Nageotte v. King George County, 223 Va. 259, 269-70 (1982).

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  • West Virginia

    Courts can grant prospective relief enjoining a governing body of a public agency from proceeding as it has in the past and ordering the public agency to conduct its future meetings in conformity with the Open Meetings Act. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-6.

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  • Wyoming

    There is no provision that directly addresses this issue, but the Wyoming Supreme Court has indicated that injunctive relief is appropriate to bar forestall violations of the Act.

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