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a. Administrative forum

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  • Alaska

    There is no specific provision in the open meetings law for challenges or appeals from denials of access to agency meetings in any administrative forum, whether that be the agency itself or any separate commission or independent agency.

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  • Arizona

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

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  • Arkansas

    The citizen should first raise this issue with the governing body itself, thereby preserving the right to sue for a declaratory judgment or invalidation. No procedures are set out in the FOIA, but if time permits, it is advisable that the request for an open meeting be in writing and set forth the reasons why the meeting must be open. Arkansas does not have a “FOI Commission” or similar agency.

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  • California

    The Bagley-Keene Act does not provide for a ruling from an administrative forum.
    Under the Brown Act, to nullify completed action taken by the legislative body of a local agency in violation of Sections 54953 (open and public meetings), 54954.2 (posting of agenda), 54954.5 (description requirements for closed sessions), 54954.6 (public meeting in general tax or assessment of notice thereof), 54956 (special meetings and notice thereof), or 54956.5 (emergency meeting rules), a written demand must be made to the body to cure or correct the action. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 54960.1(b), 54960.2. The demand must clearly describe the action and the nature of the alleged violation. Cal. Gov't Code § 54960.1(b).
    Similarly, actions to determine the application of the Brown Act to past actions of the legislative body require that the person seeking to bring an action first send a cease and desist letter to the legislative body, and receive from the legislative body in response either no response or something other than an unconditional commitment to cease and desist from the action. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54960.2.

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  • Colorado

    Not Applicable.

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  • Connecticut

    Not specified.  Any person wrongfully denied the right to attend a meeting under FOIA, or denied any other right under FOIA, may appeal therefrom to the FOIC. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-206(b)(1).

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  • Delaware

    Request for ruling should be made at the agency level, although this is not a required step. There is no independent agency that adjudicates open meetings issues in Delaware.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    The Act does not provide an administrative forum for challenging non-compliance with the Act.

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  • Hawaii

    The OIP, created by Chapter 92F, administers and establishes procedures for filing and responding to open meeting complaints. In 2012, the OIP promulgated a comprehensive set of rules for filing an administrative complaint concerning a board’s failure to comply with the Sunshine Law. See generally Haw. Code R. ch. 2-73. In order to help explain its new administrative appeals process, the OIP created a comprehensive guide that summarizes, in question and answer format, the main points to know on filing an administrative appeal with the OIP. The “Guide to Appeals to the Office of Information Practices” can be found at: http://oip.hawaii.gov/laws-rules-opinions/rules/. Appealing the actions of a board to the OIP will not prejudice a person’s right to appeal to the circuit court after the OIP has issued its decision. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-15.5.

    What Can Be Appealed

    Under the OIP Rules, a person may seek a determination by the OIP of whether a board has complied with, or to prevent violations of, the Sunshine Law, Haw. Code R. §§ 2-73-11(3), and the applicability of the Sunshine Law to the discussions or decisions of a public body. Id. § 2-73-11(4).

    When an Appeal Must be Brought

    A person appealing a board’s action that it believes to be in violation of the Sunshine Law must bring their appeal within six months of the action in question. Id. § 2-73-12(3). A person seeking a determination of the applicability of the Sunshine Law to the discussions or decisions of a public body may bring their appeal at any time during the public body’s existence. Id. § 2-73-12(4).

    Contents of an Appeal, Notice of Appeal & Response

    A request for appeal must clearly identify what actions of a board the appellant contends were not in compliance with the Sunshine Law or the public body whose discussions and decisions the appellant contends are subject to the Sunshine Law. Id. at 2-73-12(e). Additionally, the request for appeal may include:

    A statement of relevant facts;

    A discussion of the appellant’s basis for disagreeing with the board’s actions or for believing that the Sunshine Law applies to the public body; and

    Any other information the appellant may provide to the OIP to be considered in its ruling on the appeal.

    Id. at 2-73-12(e).

    Once the Director of the OIP has received a request for an appeal, it must first determine whether the request complies with the requirements of Section 2-73-12. Id. § 2-73-13(a). Upon accepting the appeal, the Director has five days to either:

    Notify the appellant that the appeal will not be heard and specify the reasons why the appeal is not warranted or the additional information that the OIP requires in order for the appeal to proceed; or

    Issue a notice of appeal to the appellant and the board whose actions are being appealed.

    Id. The OIP’s notice of appeal must include a description of the general appeal procedures that the OIP will follow in resolving the appeal and set out the responsibilities of the parties in responding to the appeal. Id. § 2-73-13(b). The Director must also send the board a copy of the appeal filed by the appellant. Id. § 2-73-13(c).

    Once a board has received a notice of appeal, it has ten days to respond. Id. § 2-73-14. A board’s response should include the following:

    A concise statement of the factual background;

    The board’s explanation of its position, including the board’s justification for the actions complained of supported by citations to the specific statutory sections or other law that supports its position; and

    Information on how the OIP may contact the board officer or employee who is authorized to respond and make representations on behalf of the board with respect to the appeal.

    Id. § 2-74-14(1)-(4).

    Dismissal

    After accepting an appeal, the Director may issue a notice dismissing all or part of an appeal at any time for good reason, including but not limited to the following:

    A prerequisite for filing an appeal has not been met;

    The appeal is determined to be frivolous;

    The issues are beyond OIP’s jurisdiction;

    No violation of the law can be found when viewing the issues in the light most favorable to the appellant;

    The appeal has been abandoned by the appellant's failure to respond to OIP within twenty days after the date OIP sent the appellant a request for a response, or other circumstances indicate the appeal has been abandoned;

    The same issues on appeal have been previously addressed in a published OIP decision; or

    An OIP decision on the appeal would be advisory or moot.

    Id. at 2-73-18.

    Final Decisions

    The Director must issue a final written decision on an appeal and send a copy of the decision to each party. Id. § 2-73-17(a). The Director’s decisions may take the form of a published opinion, an unpublished informal or memorandum opinion, or other written disposition. Id. § 2-73-17(d). Published decisions are considered as precedent and to be followed unless overruled under Section 2-73-19 (Reconsideration) or by a court decision. Id. Conversely, informal or memorandum opinions are not considered precedent yet may be considered for “other purposes.” Id.

    Reconsideration

    The Director of the OIP has the discretion, on its own initiative or upon request by a party, to reconsider its final decision. Id. §2-73-19(a). The Director also has the discretion to reconsider a precedent set by a prior published OIP decision. Id. § 2-73-19(c). A party’s request for reconsideration must be made in writing within ten days of the Director issuing its final decision. Id. § 2-73-19(b), (d).

    Reconsideration of either a final decision or of a precedent must be based upon one or more of the following: (1) a change in the law; (2) a change in the facts; (3) or other Compelling circumstances. Id. § 2-73-19(d). The OIP may require the party seeking reconsideration to provide a written statement setting out the basis for its request. Id. The party not requesting reconsideration will be given notice of any such request received and granted, a copy of the request, and any written statements filed. Id. Additionally, the OIP must also allow the non-requesting party to submit a counterstatement when reconsidering a decision. Id.

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  • Idaho

    Perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to bring an alleged violation of the open meeting act to the attention of the governing body at issue, is to submit a written notice of an alleged violation to such body pursuant to Idaho Code § 74-208(7)(a)(ii).  Upon receipt of such notice, the governing body shall have 14 days to respond publicly and either acknowledge the open meeting violation and state an intent to cure the violation or state that the public agency has determined that no violation has occurred and that no cure is necessary. Idaho Code § 74-208(7)(a)(ii).  Failure to respond shall be treated as a denial of any violation for purposes of proceeding with any enforcement action. Id.

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  • Illinois

    Redress is sought by filing a request with the Public Access Counselor, or directly in circuit court. Thus, this section is inapplicable in Illinois.

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  • Indiana

    No administrative agency handles Open Door Law complaints, and the statute provides only for judicial remedies. See Miller v. Gibson County Solid Waste Mgmt. Distrib., 622 N.E.2d 248 (Ind. Tax 1993) (“[N]owhere within the Open Door Law is there provision for any administrative review . . . . [The statute] plainly allows only courts to provide relief for Open Door Law violations.”). However, the proponent of access will generally complain first to the president or chairman of the governing body or to the governing body’s counsel. See also Petit v. Indiana Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n, 511 N.E.2d 312, 316 (Ind. App. 1987) (The word “action” as used in Indiana Code Section 5-14-1.5-7 contemplates the filing of a lawsuit; objections to the failure to comply with the Open Door Law, standing alone, does not stop the thirty day timeframe for filing a complaint).

    The Office of the Public Access Counselor responds to inquiries from the public and public agencies on public access issues. Ind. Code § 5-14-4-10. An individual or a public agency may file a formal complaint or make an informal inquiry with the Counselor. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-6. Formal complaints must be filed within 30 days of the denial of access to a meeting. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-7(a). A complaint is considered filed on the date that it is either received by the Public Access Counselor or the date that it is postmarked, so long as it is received no more than 30 days after the date of the denial at issue. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-7(b).

    Once the Public Access Counselor receives the complaint, a copy must be forwarded immediately to the public agency that is the subject of the complaint. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-8. The Public Access Counselor may conduct an investigation, and the public agency is required to cooperate in any investigation. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-5. The Public Access Counselor is required to issue an advisory opinion not later than 30 days after the complaint is filed. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-9. If the Public Access Counselor determines that a complaint has priority, an advisory opinion must be issued within seven days. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-10. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is not tolled by filing a formal complaint with the Public Access Counselor. Ind. Code § 5-14-5-12.

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  • Iowa

    Judicial review of agency action is available pursuant to Iowa Code § 17A.19. Any suit brought pursuant to chapter 17A must be brought in the district court in Polk County or in the district court in the county where petitioner resides or has its principal place of business. Iowa Code § 17A.19(2).
    A chapter 17A action must address the following: "the petition for review shall name the agency as respondent and shall contain a concise statement of: (1) the nature of the agency action which is the subject of the petition; (2) the particular agency action appealed from; (3) the facts on which venue is based; (4) the grounds on which relief is sought; and (e) the relief sought." Iowa Code § 17A.19(4).

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  • Kansas

    No provision.

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  • Kentucky

    If a person elects administrative enforcement, that person must submit a written complaint to the presiding officer of the public agency stating the circumstances which constitute an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act and what the public agency should do to remedy the alleged violation. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(1); see 93-OMD-61 ("failure to direct the letter to the presiding officer is a mere technicality which will not prohibit the invoking of the Open Meetings Act").

    The public agency must determine within three (3) business days whether to remedy the alleged violation. Within this same time period, the agency must notify in writing the person of its decision. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(1). The agency's denial, in whole or part, "shall include a statement of the specific statute or statutes supporting the public agency's denial and a brief explanation of how the statute or statutes apply. The response shall be issued by the presiding officer, or under his authority, and shall constitute final agency action." Id.; see also 92-OMD-1840 (demanding city's response to complaint list the specific statutes authorizing the closed meeting).

    If the public agency refuses to remedy the alleged violation, the complaining party may ask the Attorney General to review the agency's decision. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(2).

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  • Louisiana

    Not provided for in the Open Meeting Law.

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  • Maine

    Any challenge to an illegal meeting must be brought in Superior Court.  Maine does not have an administrative forum with jurisdiction to hear disputes under the Act.

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  • Maryland

    To the extent that another law provides more stringent requirements, that law will apply. See § 3-105. Thus, if there are provisions mandating agency procedures for open meetings, they may provide a forum.

    The Act established the OMCB, which provides a non-judicial forum for consideration of past and prospective violations of the Act. See §§ 3-205 through 3-212. The Board's opinion is solely advisory and cannot compel action by the public body, nor can the Board's opinion be introduced as evidence in a legal action against the public body. §§ 3-209 to 3-211.

    The Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) provides staff for the OMCB and works with the OMBC to train staff members and attorneys of public bodies and local government associations. §§ 3-203(d), 3-204(d). The staff and attorneys provided to the OMCB are housed in the Opinions and Advice Division of the OAG. OMA Manual, at 7-10. The OAG hosts a website dedicated to open meetings that includes the text of the Act, frequently asked questions, a compliance checklist, and training/educational resources. Id., at 7-11. The OMCB’s meeting notices and related documents, complaint and response procedures, and opinions are also available at the website: http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/OpenGov/Openmeetings/default.aspx.

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  • Massachusetts

    There is no available administrative forum in sense of a quasi-judicial agency.

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  • Montana

    There is no administrative forum available to test whether a meeting has been properly closed.

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  • Nebraska

    No specific administrative forum provided, although letter to public body pointing out violation is occasionally successful.

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  • Nevada

    An administrative forum is not available for OML complaints.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute does not provide for an administrative forum and there is no requirement of exhaustion.

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  • New Mexico

    No administrative procedure for challenging decisions exists.  Internal rules purporting to establish a procedure may or may not be mandatory.

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  • North Dakota

    The request for review of a denial of access to a meeting is directed to the state attorney general. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1.

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  • Ohio

    There is no requirement that a person seek any kind of decision from any administrative agency about the propriety or lawfulness of closing a meeting. There is no administrative agency or commission with the duty to arbitrate disputes over closing meetings.

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  • Oklahoma

    While it is not advisable to follow the Administrative Procedures Act because it not only is not necessary but it would also be too cumbersome, if a challenge were made through the APA it would first be made with the agency. After an order has been entered denying the access, that order would be appealable to the District Court. This is an unnecessary step because an action can be maintained in District Court alleging violation of the Open Meeting Act and seeking an injunction.

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  • Oregon

    None.
    Complaints concerning violations of the executive session requirements can be made to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission — the state ethics agency. ORS 192.685.

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  • Rhode Island

    There is no agency for handling open meetings appeals in Rhode Island. However, any citizen or entity of the state who is aggrieved as a result of violations of the OML may file a complaint with the attorney general.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a).

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  • South Carolina

    There is no administrative forum.

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  • South Dakota

    In 2004 the South Dakota Legislature passed SDCL §§1-25-6 through 1-25-9 establishing an Open Meeting Commission, the sole function of which is to consider complaints of open meetings law violations that local states attorneys have passed along. The Commission, comprising five states attorneys appointed by the attorney general, reviews any investigatory file and written submissions by the parties and then determines whether a violation has occurred. The Commission enters findings of face, conclusions of law and its decision. The sanction for a violation is a "public reprimand." The Commission's decision is a bar to further prosecution by either the state’s attorney or the attorney general.  SDCL §1-27-7.

    It bears emphasis that the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission’s decisions, while intended to influence and guide the conduct of the state’s public bodies, are not legal precedents.  Although public bodies are not apt to ignore or challenge an OMC ruling, a member of the public can litigate the same issue in court, de novo.

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  • Texas

    The Act does not provide an administrative forum to hear complaints.

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  • Utah

    The Open Meetings Act does not provide for an administrative forum.

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  • Vermont

    Prior to filing an action in court, an aggrieved party must provide the public body with written notice alleging the violation and requesting a specific cure of such violation.  1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(1).

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  • Virginia

    There is no administrative forum in Virginia to seek a remedy for violation of the Act.

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  • West Virginia

    The Open Meetings Act does not provide for an administrative challenge to a public agency's actions. However, it is possible that some agencies may have promulgated regulations that provide such an administrative forum. In that case, provisions regarding time limits for requesting or receiving a ruling or subsequent administrative remedies should also be contained in the agency's regulations. With few exceptions, such regulations must be filed with the office of the Secretary of State and can be obtained by visiting the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Website, https://sos.wv.gov/administrative-law/Pages/Rules.aspx , or from the agency involved.

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  • Wyoming

    Not applicable in Wyoming.

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