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c. Order future meetings open

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  • Alabama

    Under the former open meetings law Alabama courts ordered that future meetings dealing with specific matters be open. In Miglionico v. Birmingham News Co., 378 So. 2d 667 (Ala. 1979), the Birmingham City Council held a closed meeting to consider an appointment to the city board of education. When the City Council scheduled another closed meeting, one month later, to fill a vacancy on the Council itself, The Birmingham News Company obtained a court order requiring that meeting to be open to the public. 378 So. 2d at 678. When the trial court later entered a permanent injunction requiring that all meetings of the City Council be open except "when the character or good name of a woman or man is involved," however, the Alabama Supreme Court held that the injunction simply compelled obedience to the former open meetings law and was thus too broad and vague. The Court directed that "[t]he Council should be enjoined from holding executive or secret sessions to consider or discuss the appointment or employment of an individual to a public office or board, except when the individual's 'character or good name,' as defined herein, is involved." 378 So. 2d at 682. See also Dale v. Birmingham News Co., 452 So. 2d 1321 (Ala. 1984) (trial court enjoined Birmingham Board of Education from excluding the public from interviews of applicants for Superintendent of Birmingham School System unless character or good name exception applied; four interviews were completed before the court's injunction and three afterward); Birmingham News Co. v. Bell, 17 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1597 (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Jan. 5, 1990) (city council permanently enjoined "from conducting the election of Council officers in closed session") (attorneys' fee award affirmed in Bell v. Birmingham News Co., 576 So. 2d 669 (Ala. Civ. App. 1991)); Birmingham News Co. v. Coleman, CV 89-723 (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Bessemer Div., Jan. 8, 1990 (city council members and their successors permanently enjoined "to refrain from meeting in closed session to discuss the purchase of real estate . . . or for any other such or similar purpose, other than any portion of such meeting that shall consist solely of a discussion of the character or good name of a woman or man"); Tuscaloosa News v. Garrison, No. CV-1999-408 (Cir. Ct. of Tuscaloosa County, Ala., May 31, 2000) (mayor and city council members permanently enjoined from holding executive or secret sessions to consider, discuss, recommend, or select persons for the board of education except when an individual's character or good name is involved).

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  • Alaska

    Where prospective violations of the open meetings laws are proven, the court has the authority to enjoin future violations, at least in the specific context of proven threats of specific violations.

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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); Arkansas 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 Hospital Services 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, Jessup v. Carmichael, 224 Ark. 230, 272 S.W.2d 438 (1954), 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

    The court has the authority to order a future meeting to be open if it does not fit within one of the exemptions specifically authorized by the relevant Act.

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  • Colorado

    Not specified.

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  • Connecticut

    The court may provide this remedy at its discretion.

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  • Delaware

    If a court finds that a violation occurred, it can order future meetings to be open and void the meeting that is in violation of the Act. 29 Del. C. § 10005(a).

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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

    Florida courts have issued declaratory judgments ordering that future meetings of a board or commission of a public agency be open to the public. See, e.g., Marston v. Wood, 442 So. 2d 934 (Fla. 1983).

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  • Georgia

    The court may grant an injunction or other equitable relief to enforce compliance with the Act, including requiring that future meetings be open. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-5(a).

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  • Hawaii

    Yes. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-12(c).

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  • Indiana

    The court may enjoin threatened or future violations of the law. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-7(a)(2); see 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

    Iowa Code § 21.6(3)(e) provides for mandatory injunction prohibiting violation of the Act for a period of one year.

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  • Kansas

    Injunctive relief is available under K.S.A. 75-4320a.

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  • Kentucky

    The court may enforce agency compliance with the Open Meetings Act "by injunction or other appropriate order." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.848(1).

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  • Louisiana

    Yes; injunctive relief is available "to prevent noncompliance with" the Open Meeting Law. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:26.

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  • Maine

    The Court order a body to conduct future meetings in public.

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  • Maryland

    The court is expressly authorized to issue an injunction under the Act. § 3-401(d)(2). Thus, the court may enjoin the public body from closing meetings or committing future violations of the Act. See § 3-401(b).

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  • Massachusetts

    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, but statute does not appear to authorize a general order that future meetings be open.

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  • Michigan

    A court may order future meetings open. However, where the court finds that there is no reason to believe that a public body will deliberately fail to comply with OMA in the future, injunctive relief is unwarranted. Nicholas v. Meridian Charter Twp. Board, 239 Mich. App. 525, 609 N.W.2d 574 (2000).

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  • Minnesota

    Ordering future meetings open is a possible form of remedy.

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  • Mississippi

    The courts have, for example, issued injunctive relief requiring the Board of Institution of Higher Learning to hold open meetings with college presidents. Board of Trustees, supra, 478 So. 2d at 278.

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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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  • Nevada

    A court can issue an injunction requiring future meetings to be kept open.

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  • New Mexico

    A court could direct the public body to abide by the Open Meetings Act in future meetings.

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  • New York

    An aggrieved person may seek declaratory and/or injunctive relief to prevent a future breach of the OML. N.Y. Pub. Off. Law § 107(1) (McKinney 1988).

    See Wright v. New York City Council, 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4958 (1st Dep’t Dec. 19, 2017) (granting injunctive relief because failure to comply with statutorily required open meetings and public notice requirements of the Public Officers Law constitutes irreparable harm); Goodson Todman Enterprises, Ltd. v. Dutchess Cty. Legislature, 159 A.D.2d 460, 552 N.Y.S.2d 313 (2d Dep’t 1990) (dismissed as academic, in light of fact that meetings in question had been concluded and committee disbanded); Goodson Todman Enterprises v. City of Kingston Common Council, 153 A.D.2d 103, 550 N.Y.S.2d 157 (3d Dep’t 1990) (no reason to resort to drastic remedy of injunctive relief where prior meetings were duly noticed and open to the public); Holden v. Bd. of Trustees, 80 A.D.2d 378, 440 N.Y.S.2d 58 (3d Dep’t 1981) (ordering board of trustees to open its meetings to the public when it performs governmental function); Binghamton Press Co. v. Board of Educ., 67 A.D.2d 797, 412 N.Y.S.2d 492 (3d Dep’t 1979) (granting declaratory relief holding that work sessions are “meetings,” but denying injunctive relief in light of board’s amendment to its by-laws, after commencement of the lawsuit, providing that its work sessions be open to the public); Buffalo News v. City of Buffalo Common Council, 154 Misc.2d 400, 585 N.Y.S.2d 275 (Sup. Ct. 1992) (court declined to issue prospective order to open every meeting of council regarding budget crisis); Buffalo News v. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, No. 1424/89 (Sup. Ct., Erie Cty., March 30, 1989) (prohibiting secret meetings); Orange Cty. Publications v. Cty. of Orange, No. 5686/78 (Sup. Ct., Orange Cty., Oct. 26, 1983) (directing the Orange County legislature to admit petitioner and the public to all public meetings); Jones v. Common Council, No. 80-506 (Sup. Ct., Chenango Cty., Aug. 13, 1980) (ordering all future meetings of the common council to be conducted in strict compliance with the OML); Orange Cty. Publications v. Cty. of Orange, No. 5686/78 (Sup. Ct., Orange Cty., Dec. 26, 1978) (enjoining the Orange County legislature from convening any executive session without first complying with the OML and further enjoining the legislature from excluding the public and press from meetings except legitimately convened executive sessions); Bogulski v. Erie Cty. Medical Center, No. 97/95 (Sup. Ct., Erie Cty., Jan. 13, 1998 (ordering future meetings of the Board of Managers of hospital to comply with OML).

    Mandated Training.

    Amendments in 2010 gave courts the authority to require the members of the public body to receive training given by the Committee on Open Government. N.Y. Pub. Off. Law § 107(1) (McKinney 2010). Zehner v. Bd. of Educ. of Jordan-Elbridge Cent. Sch. Dist., No. 2010-6515, 2011 WL 1549480 (Sup. Ct. Onondaga Cty., Jan. 20, 2011) (ordering school board members “to participate in a training session concerning the obligations imposed by OML, conducted by the staff of the Committee on Open Government”).

    Other.

    For cases which address other enforcement issues relating to the conduct of meetings under the OML, see Addesso v. Sharpe, 44 N.Y.2d 925, 379 N.E.2d 1138, 908 N.Y.S.2d 8 (1978) (annulling a determination of a mayor removing petitioners from their positions on a zoning board of appeals for alleged willful and intentional violation of the OML, the court found that petitioners acted in good faith and not in deliberate violation of the law); Gersen v. Mills, 290 A.D.2d 839, 737 N.Y.S.2d 137 (3d Dep’t 2002) (Intermediate appellate court dismissed an Article 78 proceeding commenced by petitioner, the Superintendent of Schools, where the minutes of the Board of Education’s executive session in which the action was apparently authorized did not contain a record of any vote or a summary of the final determination of such action, as required by § 106(2) of the Open Meetings Law; under the circumstances of the case, allowing the proceeding to be maintained in the absence of a properly voted authorization would have prejudiced petitioner’s adversary by allowing the Board to circumvent the applicable statute of limitations); Smith v. Town of Warwick, 169 A.D.2d 976 (3d Dep’t 1991) (ordering all future public meetings at barrier-free facility); Mitchell v. Board of Educ., 113 A.D.2d 924, 493 N.Y.S.2d 826 (2d Dep’t 1985) (affirming judgment which annulled resolution adopted by a board of education prohibiting use of tape recorders at public meetings); In re Holdsworth, No. 80-1180 (Sup. Ct., Tompkins Cty., Nov. 13, 1980) (directing the county board of representatives to hold all future meetings except executive sessions and hearings at places which provide barrier-free physical access to the physically handicapped, as required by the OML); Fenton v. Randolph, 92 Misc.2d 514, 400 N.Y.S.2d 987 (Sup. Ct. 1977) (directing the town board to conduct its public meetings at barrier-free facilities).

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  • North Carolina

    The courts have the ability to enjoin threatened violations and recurrence of past violations of the Open Meetings Law.

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  • North Dakota

    The court may award declaratory relief, an injunction, or a writ of probation or mandamus against the public entity, which could include ordering future meetings be open. See N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.2(1).

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  • Ohio

    The court has the authority to order the opening of future meetings. Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(I)(1); see State ex rel. Inskeep v. Staten, 74 Ohio St. 3d 676, 660 N.E.2d 1207 (1996).

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  • Oklahoma

    Oklahoma law does not address this issue.

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  • Oregon

    Not addressed.

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  • Pennsylvania

    The court may order future compliance with the Act’s provisions as relief. See Reading Eagle Co. v. Council of the City of Reading, 627 A.2d 305 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1993) (affirming trial court’s grant of permanent injunction against City Council, requiring it to announce specific reasons for going into executive session at future meetings); Patriot-News Co. v. Empowerment Team of the Harrisburg Sch. Dist., 763 A.2d 539 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2000) (upholding trial court’s entry of a preliminary injunction requiring meetings to be open to the public). This same reasoning would support a petition for relief that included a prospective order to keep meetings open.

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  • Rhode Island

    The court may issue injunctive relief and declare null and void any actions of a public body found to be in violation of this chapter.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8(d).

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  • South Carolina

    The court could enjoin future illegal executive session meetings. Business License Opposition Committee v. Sumter County, 426 S.E.2d 745 (S.C. 1992).

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  • Texas

    Courts are empowered to determine whether a future meeting should be open. See, e.g., The Pea Picker, Inc. v. Reagan, 632 S.W.2d 674, 677 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1982, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (“the trial court had power to construe the statute as to whether notice of such a meeting must be given, and when a meeting is required to be open.”); see also Tex. Gov’t Code §551.142.

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  • Utah

    A court may enjoin violations of the Open Meetings Act. Utah Code § 52-4-303(3)(a).

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  • Vermont

    Although the statute appears to allow for a party to seek that future meetings be held through a suit for declaratory judgment, there are no reported cases of a court ordering that future meetings be held open.  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 Court only will restrain a governing body from closing future meetings where there is evidence that there was a willful and substantial violation, and that the violation will likely occur again. Nageotte v. King George County, 223 Va. 259, 269-70, 288 S.E.2d 423, 428 (1982).

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  • West Virginia

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

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  • Wisconsin

    Declaratory and injunctive relief is available to require that future meetings be open. Wis. Stat. § 19.97(2). The fact that the primary governmental action affecting the person complaining about the Open Meetings violation is declared void, pursuant to § 19.97(3), does not render moot the claims for declaratory relief and civil forfeitures based on the same or related Open Meetings infractions. See State ex rel. Lawton v. Town of Barton, 2005 WI App 16 ¶ 15, 19, 278 Wis. 2d 388, 398, 400–01, 692 N.W.2d 304, 309, 311 (while voiding body's action may grant complainant all the relief she seeks as an individual, it does not address the citizenry's interests in declaring the legality of official actions and potentially imposing forfeitures on the officials responsible).

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  • Wyoming

    Citizens may seek injunctive relief to prevent a body from meeting in secret.  See concurrence of Justice Marilyn Kite in Cheyenne Newspapers v. City of Cheyenne Building Code Board of Appeals, see Foreword.

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