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The Public Records Act -R.C. 149.43  …To be interpreted liberally to facilitate broader access  …Exceptions to be strictly interpreted in favor of disclosure.

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Presentation on theme: "The Public Records Act -R.C. 149.43  …To be interpreted liberally to facilitate broader access  …Exceptions to be strictly interpreted in favor of disclosure."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Public Records Act -R.C  …To be interpreted liberally to facilitate broader access  …Exceptions to be strictly interpreted in favor of disclosure  The Open Meetings Act -R.C  …To require all official actions/deliberations to be in open meetings unless excepted  …Act to be liberally construed in favor of openness 1 Ohio’s Major Sunshine Laws

2 What is a Public Record? Stored on a fixed medium, AND Stored on a fixed medium, AND Created, received, or sent under the jurisdiction of a public office; AND Created, received, or sent under the jurisdiction of a public office; AND Documents the organization, functions, operations, or other activities of the office. Documents the organization, functions, operations, or other activities of the office. 2

3 Some “Uncertain” Issues “Notes” of a public employee may [or may not] be a public record. “Notes” of a public employee may [or may not] be a public record. A “draft” of a public record may [or may not] be a public record, although in one case the Ohio Supreme Court held that a written draft of an oral agreement was a public record. A “draft” of a public record may [or may not] be a public record, although in one case the Ohio Supreme Court held that a written draft of an oral agreement was a public record. “Personal” calendars and appointment books may [or may not] be a public record. “Personal” calendars and appointment books may [or may not] be a public record. 3

4 Some “Fairly Certain” Issues A public office is not required to create new records to respond to a public records request. A public office is not required to create new records to respond to a public records request. If a computer is programmed to produce a record, then the record “exists”. If a computer is programmed to produce a record, then the record “exists”. The records of private entities performing duties for public entities may be deemed public records. The records of private entities performing duties for public entities may be deemed public records. 4

5 Public Records & Personnel Records Most University personnel records are public records. Most University personnel records are public records. Retention, Promotion, and Tenure records at state universities are public records. Retention, Promotion, and Tenure records at state universities are public records. 5

6 Public Records All public records shall be promptly prepared an made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours. All public records shall be promptly prepared an made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours. Upon request, …a person responsible for public records shall make copies available at cost, within a reasonable period of time. Upon request, …a person responsible for public records shall make copies available at cost, within a reasonable period of time. Public records shall be maintained in a manner that they can be made available. Public records shall be maintained in a manner that they can be made available. 6

7 Public Records All records kept by a public office are public records except generally - medical, adoption, probation, parole - trial preparation - intellectual property (higher education) - confidential law enforcement investigatory - records the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law - donor profile (higher education) All records kept by a public office are public records except generally - medical, adoption, probation, parole - trial preparation - intellectual property (higher education) - confidential law enforcement investigatory - records the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law - donor profile (higher education) 7

8 Public Records A public office is not required to create new records to meet a records request. A public office is not required to create new records to meet a records request. Request for public records does not have to be in writing. Request for public records does not have to be in writing. Motive for the request is irrelevant, even if for commercial purposes. Motive for the request is irrelevant, even if for commercial purposes. A public office must mail copies of public records upon request. A public office must mail copies of public records upon request. 8

9 Public Meetings Notice of Meetings: Rules must be adopted for notifying public of regular and special meetings. Special meetings require no less than 24 hours advance notice to the media. Emergency meetings require that the media be contacted immediately—NEOMED has both a By-Law provision and separate rule governing notification requirements. Notice of Meetings: Rules must be adopted for notifying public of regular and special meetings. Special meetings require no less than 24 hours advance notice to the media. Emergency meetings require that the media be contacted immediately—NEOMED has both a By-Law provision and separate rule governing notification requirements. 9

10 Public Meetings Minutes must be promptly prepared, filed and maintained with full and accurate information and sufficient facts to permit the public to understand and appreciate the rationale behind the public body’s decision. Minutes must be promptly prepared, filed and maintained with full and accurate information and sufficient facts to permit the public to understand and appreciate the rationale behind the public body’s decision. Minutes do not detail discussion in executive sessions—only general subject matter. Minutes do not detail discussion in executive sessions—only general subject matter. 10

11 Public Meetings Public bodies can only go into executive session within an open meeting. Public bodies can only go into executive session within an open meeting. Meetings should be conducted in public meeting places. Meetings should be conducted in public meeting places. Committees of public bodies are also public bodies. Committees of public bodies are also public bodies. 11

12 Public Meetings Meeting means any prearranged discussion of the public business of the public body by a majority of its members. Meeting means any prearranged discussion of the public business of the public body by a majority of its members. All meetings of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times. All meetings of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times. A member of a public body must be present to be considered present or to vote. A member of a public body must be present to be considered present or to vote. 12

13 Public Meetings A gathering of the members of a public body may not be a meeting if the members of the public body act only as passive observers in a ministerial fact-gathering capacity or informal session. A gathering of the members of a public body may not be a meeting if the members of the public body act only as passive observers in a ministerial fact-gathering capacity or informal session. A “round robin” or “serial” meeting through which an items is sequentially but separately discussed with a majority of members, or a conference call “meeting” is prohibited. A “round robin” or “serial” meeting through which an items is sequentially but separately discussed with a majority of members, or a conference call “meeting” is prohibited. 13

14 Public Meetings The public body’s vote to go into executive session must be by roll call vote of a majority of a quorum and may not be by acclamation, and must specify the specific purpose of the executive session—for example, it is not sufficient to move to discuss “personnel”; rather, the motion should specify to discuss “the dismissal of an employee”. The public body’s vote to go into executive session must be by roll call vote of a majority of a quorum and may not be by acclamation, and must specify the specific purpose of the executive session—for example, it is not sufficient to move to discuss “personnel”; rather, the motion should specify to discuss “the dismissal of an employee”. 14

15 Personnel Matters Personnel Matters Purchase or Sale of Property Purchase or Sale of Property Conferences with an attorney Conferences with an attorney Collective Bargaining Matters Collective Bargaining Matters Security Arrangement Details Security Arrangement Details Matters required to be kept confidential by law or audit conference with state auditor Matters required to be kept confidential by law or audit conference with state auditor “Trade Secrets” [case law] “Trade Secrets” [case law] 15 Public Meetings Executive Session Topics

16 Public Meetings Public Meeting laws can be enforced through injunctive relief, $500 fine and attorney’s fees. Public Meeting laws can be enforced through injunctive relief, $500 fine and attorney’s fees. A member of a public body who knowingly violates an injunction issued against a public body to enforce the public meeting laws, may be removed from office. A member of a public body who knowingly violates an injunction issued against a public body to enforce the public meeting laws, may be removed from office. 16

17 Public Meetings An action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting. An action, even if adopted in an open meeting, is invalid if the action results from deliberations in a meeting not open to the public. An action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting. An action, even if adopted in an open meeting, is invalid if the action results from deliberations in a meeting not open to the public. A formal action taken in a meeting for which notice was not properly given, may be invalid. A formal action taken in a meeting for which notice was not properly given, may be invalid. 17


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