Q&A: Open Door Law violation?


The following question came from The Reporter-Times (Martinsville):

Question: A Brooklyn Town Council meeting started off with three members passing (3-2 vote) the demotion of the current marshal and the hiring of a new marshal. The other two members had no inkling that this was going to occur. Does this situation lead one to believe there was an illegal meeting between the three council members held prior to the council meeting?

Answer: Not necessarily. Councilman No. 1 could have made separate phone calls to Nos. 2 and 3 and convinced them to support the marshal change. Or the decision between the three could have been reached via e-mail.

Those scenarios would not have violated Indiana’s Open Door Law, although it denied the public the ability to hear the pros and cons on the personnel issue.

In the other scenario, the three members meeting prior to the public meeting, would violate the Open Door Law. There would have been a quorum and public business discussed, which meets the definition of a meeting by a governing body.
The trio would have been required by law to give the necessary 48-hours notice of the meeting and allowed the public to attend.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.