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4. How long should you wait for a response

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  • Alaska

    There is no specific time limit in the OMA for an agency to respond to a complaint that is not part of a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, if neither party requests expedited treatment, or if the court does not grant it, a complaint about open meetings violations would be treated like any other. The defendant will have 20 days to respond (unless it is a state agency, in which case it has 40 days), then there is discovery and pretrial motion work, and a trial would be set whenever the court's calendar permits. There is no time limit for a court to issue a ruling (except that if a judge has not issued a ruling within six months after the motion or other matter is submitted for a ruling, his or her paycheck will be withheld—as in any case, not just OMA cases).

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  • Arizona

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

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  • Arkansas

    The FOIA is silent on the matter. There being no fixed time frame, a reasonableness standard should be used. If the time for the meeting is drawing near and no response for the governing body has been received, immediate judicial relief should be sought. In such circumstances, the court should treat the agency’s failure to respond as a denial and hold that administrative remedies have been exhausted. Alternatively, the court could conclude that exhaustion is not required when there has been undue delay on the part of the agency, for in that situation exhaustion is futile. See Bell v. Adams, 243 Ark. 895, 422 S.W.2d 691 (1968).

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  • California

    Under the Brown Act, the legislative body has 30 days from the date of receipt of the demand to cure or correct the challenged action and inform the demanding person in writing of its decision. Cal. Gov't Code § 54960.1(c)(2). The challenger must commence an action within 15 days of receipt of the legislative body's written decision, or if there is no written decision, within 15 days of the expiration of the 30-day period. Cal. Gov't Code § 54960.1(c)(4). Where no action is taken by the legislative body, the 15-day period shall commence to run the day after the 30-day period to cure or correct expires. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54960.1(c)(3).
    Under the Brown Act, the legislative body has 30 days from receipt of the cease and desist letter to respond. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54960.2(b). The challenger must commence an action within 60 days of the legislative body’s written decision, of if there is no written decision, within 60 days of the expiration of the 30-day period for the agency to respond to the cease and desist letter. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54960.2(a)(4).

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  • Colorado

    Not Applicable.

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  • Connecticut

    The general procedure before the FOIC is discussed above. Records Outline at V.C. If the appeal concerns an announced decision or an ongoing practice by an agency to meet in executive session, a preliminary hearing must be held by the FOIC within 72 hours. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-206(b)(1). If the FOIC finds probable cause for a violation of FOIA by the public agency, then the agency shall not meet in the executive session pending the appeal. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-206(b)(1). A final hearing must be held within five days. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-206(b)(1).

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  • Delaware

    Practice suggests waiting 10 days.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    When a violation is threatened or ongoing and the damage substantial or irreparable, the court may entertain a request for an immediate hearing.

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  • Hawaii

    No provision.

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  • Idaho

    Once a written notice is submitted to a governing body pursuant to Idaho Code § 74-208(7)(a)(ii), the complainant must wait for the statutory response and cure period to expire before commencing enforcement proceedings in court.  Idaho Code § 74-208(7)(c).

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  • Indiana

    The only way to get a binding ruling is to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit must be tried, settled or adjudicated. See Azhar v. Town of Fishers, 744 N.E.2d 947, 953 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001) (genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment).

    However, if the complainant files a complaint with the Public Access Counselor, the Counselor is required to issue an advisory opinion not later than 30 days after the complaint is filed. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-9.

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  • Iowa

    Consult local court administrator for time lines.

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  • Kansas

    No provision.

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  • Kentucky

    By statute, the Attorney General has ten (10) days, excluding holidays and weekends, to issue an opinion after receiving copies of the complaint and public agency’s response. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(2). However, decisions are rarely rendered within 10 days. It should be noted that, in contrast, the Open Records Act provides the Attorney General with a 20-day response time, plus a 30 day extension if necessary. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(2)(a)-(b).

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  • Louisiana

    Not later than 60 days if you want to void action taken by public body meeting in violation of the Open Meeting Law. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:24.

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  • Maine

    No responsive pleading is required, although governmental entities will often file an answer if the complaint is not styled as an appeal.  See M.R.Civ.P. 80B (“No responsive [pleading need be filed unless required by statute or order of the court . . . .”).  An entry of appearance within the time for serving an answer (20 days) is required.

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  • Maryland

    Upon receipt of the petition, the OMCB shall send a copy of the complaint to the identified public body requesting a response within 30 days. § 3-206(b)(1). On request of the OMCB, the public body shall include with its written response a copy of a notice provided under § 3-302, a written statement made under § 3-305(d)(2)(ii) and minutes or any tape recording made by the public body under § 3-306. § 3-206(b)(2). The OMCB shall maintain the confidentiality of minutes and tape recordings submitted. § 3-206(b)(3). If the Board has sufficient information based on the written materials before it, it shall issue a written opinion within 30 days of receiving the public body's response. § 3-207(a). Otherwise, it may conduct an informal conference with the parties or other appropriate persons to gather additional information. § 3-207(b). The Board shall then issue its opinion 30 days following the conference. Id.

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  • Massachusetts

    There is no formal administrative review procedure. If the District Attorney fails to act on complaint, the 21-day period in which to file litigation continues to run.

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  • Montana

    Regular pleading standards apply under Montana Rules of Civil Procedure.

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  • Nebraska

    No time limits for response stated in statute. A two-to-three week response period should be sufficient in administrative forum. Issuance of a Disposition Letter by the Attorney General ordinarily takes a month or so. Resolution on merits in court will take longer.

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  • Nevada

    If the Attorney General does not respond quickly, then a complaint may need to be filed to meet the 60-day time limit for voiding actions taken in violation of the law.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute does not address this issue.

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  • New Mexico

    No specific response deadlines.

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  • North Carolina

    There is no prescribed “response time” for compliance with the Open Meetings Law. Of course, public bodies are obliged to comply with its requirements at the time of meeting. If a meeting was held in violation of the law, it is common practice to demand access to the full minutes of the meeting in order to review what transpired. The Court of Appeals also has held that only minutes of legal closed sessions may be withheld from the public. “The plain language of G.S. § 143-138.10 requires that a closed session be conducted in compliance with G.S. § 143-318.11 in order for the minutes of such session to be withheld from public inspection.” Boney Publishers Inc. v. Burlington City Council, 151 N.C. App. 651, 659, 566 S.E.2d 701, 706 (2002). If the request for minutes is denied, the next step is filing a lawsuit.

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  • North Dakota

    The attorney general may request and obtain information claimed to be exempt or confidential for the purpose of determining whether the information is exempt or confidential. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1). The attorney general must then issue to the public entity involved an opinion on the alleged violation, unless the request is withdrawn by the person requesting the opinion or a civil action has been filed involving the possible violation. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1).

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  • Ohio

    The statute does not prescribe any waiting period for a response to a request to comply with the statute. As a practical matter, the person seeking access should wait long enough before suing that a neutral judge is likely to believe was fair and reasonable under the circumstances.

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  • Oklahoma

    The Act does not address this. But if one anticipates being excluded from a hearing, then the response time should be short to allow time to file an action in district court.

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  • Oregon

    There is no informal procedure. A challenge must be filed in court within 60 days. ORS 192.680(5).

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  • Rhode Island

    The OML does not provide for any specified response time.  However, keep in mind that a complaint in the Superior Court must be filed within certain time limitations — usually within ninety (90) days of the attorney general's closing of the complaint or within one hundred eighty (180) days of the alleged violation, whichever occurs later.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(c).

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  • South Carolina

    The public body, as a defendant, would have 30 days from the date of service of a summons and complaint to answer.

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  • South Dakota

    If an informal request is made of an agency in a non-emergency situation, then give a reasonable time (30-60 days) to respond.

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  • Texas

    Any party may file a response to the petition for writ of mandamus, but it is not mandatory.  Tex. R. App. P. 52.4.  The court must not grant relief—other than temporary relief—before a response has been filed or requested by the court.  Id.

    The response must conform to the requirements of Tex. R. App. P. 52.3, except that: (a) the list of parties and counsel is not required unless necessary to supplement or correct the list contained in the petition; (b) the response need not include a statement of the case, a statement of the issues presented, or a statement of the facts unless the responding party is dissatisfied with that portion of the petition; (c) a statement of jurisdiction should be omitted unless the petition fails to assert valid grounds for jurisdiction, in which case the reasons why the court lacks jurisdiction must be concisely stated; (d) the argument must be confined to the issues or points presented in the petition; and (e) the appendix to the response need not contain any item already contained in an appendix filed by the relator. Id.

      A reply to the response may be filed. Tex. R. App. P. 52.5  However, the court may consider and decide the case before a reply brief is filed.  Id.

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  • Utah

    Not applicable.

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  • Vermont

    The public body must respond within 10 days of receiving the written notice of the alleged violation either: (1) acknowledging the violation and stating an intent to cure the violation within 14 days or (2) stating that no violation has occurred and no cure is necessary.  1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(2).  If the public body does not respond within 10 days, it is treated as a denial of the violation.  Id. at (b)(3).  Within 14 days after the acknowledgment of a violation, the public body must cure the violation at an open meeting by either: (1) ratifying or declaring as void any action taken in violation of the statute or (2) adopting specific measures that actually prevent future violations.  Id. at (b)(4).  Following an acknowledgement or denial of a violation and, if applicable, following expiration of the 14 day cure period for public bodies acknowledging a violation, an aggrieved party may file suit for injunctive relief or declaratory judgment.  Id. at (c).

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  • Virginia

    No governing rule.  However, the petition has priority on the docket as set forth in Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3713.C.

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  • West Virginia

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

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  • Wyoming

    The Public Meetings Act does not impose a response time.

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