Presentation on theme: "Nevada Open Meeting Law"— Presentation transcript:
1 Nevada Open Meeting Law Nathan EdwardsDeputy District AttorneyWashoe County District Attorney’s Office
2 Open Meeting LawIs it worth it? Must local governments give public notice before deciding a matter?Must every meeting be agendized?
3 SUNSHINE• The “People’s Business,” conducted by public bodies, shall be open to the public. Thus, the Open Meeting Law applies to all meetings of a public body at which deliberation takes place and/or action is taken….NRS , et. seq.
4 What Is a Public Body?Any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the State or a local government which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue or which advises or makes recommendations to any entity that expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenueCABs have advisory powerLegislature and Judiciary Exempted
5 What Is a Meeting?Gathering of members of a public body in which a quorum is present to deliberate toward a decision or to take action on any matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
6 Meeting (continued)A series of gatherings of members of a public body at whichLess than a quorum is present at any individual gathering;The members attending the individual gatherings collectively constitute a quorum; andThe series of gatherings was held with the specific intent to avoid the provisions of the law.
7 Exceptions Social Functions Attorney-Client Communication If members do not deliberate toward a decision or take action on any matter over which the public body to which they belong has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory powerAttorney-Client CommunicationTo receive information from the public body’s attorney and to deliberate on potential or existing litigation on a matter over which the body has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory power
8 What Constitutes a Quorum? A simple majority of the constituent membership of a public body unless another proportion is established by lawElected body requires majority of full membership for affirmative actionAppointed body requires majority of quorum for any action
9 What Constitutes an Action? A decision made by a majority of members present during a meeting of a public bodyA commitment or promise made by a majority of members of a public body during a meeting
10 Action (continued) Serial Decision-making Constitutes a Violation Requires a majority of the membersApplies to Communications in Writing, i.e., Letters and sIncludes Discussions by and among Members about a Matter to be Heard
11 What Constitutes Notice? Written notice, to include:Time, place and location of meetingList of locations where notice has been postedAn agenda, to include:Clear and complete statement of topics scheduled to be considered during meetingIndication of those items on which action may be takenA public comment period
12 Notice (continued)Notice to be posted at principal office of public body or building at which meeting is to be heldNot less than three additional separate and prominent places within jurisdictionNot later than 9 a.m. of third working day prior to meeting
13 Notice (Continued)Delivered to the postal service used by the public body not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meetingIf agreed by requestor, delivered by not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meetingSupplemental posting on website, if available
14 Other RequirementsPublic body must make available, upon request, and at no charge:A copy of the agendaA copy of any proposed ordinance or regulation to be discussed at meetingAny other supporting material provided to public bodyMay provide by electronic mail
15 Exceptions Confidential documents Materials not yet provided to membersCaveat: Unless confidential by law or subject to an attorney-client privilege, materials must be available to public at time provided to members
16 Emergency Items Emergency means – as stated on the record An unforeseen circumstance which requires immediate action and includes, but is not limited to,Disasters; orImpairment of health or safetyLoss of money or grant opportunity
17 Other Issues Time of Meeting and Time Certains Cancellations No Quorum Accommodations for DisabledClosed MeetingsSpecial notice when taking property or administrative action against a person
18 Public Comment Must be on agenda, but placement up to public body Not limited to only one public comment periodMay not circumscribe content of speech on public comment except:Comments may be required to be directed to board as a whole – no personal attacksComments may be limited to matters not on the agenda as long as comment will be allowed at time of agenda item
19 Disruptive BehaviorPublic body may adopt rules governing public comment and input on agenda itemsRules may not be based upon content of a person’s speech/commentWarning appropriateRemoval not a violation
20 Minutes and Public Access Minutes must include, at minimum:Date, time and place of meetingMembers present and those absentSubstance of matters discussed or decided and record of any voteSubstance of comments of member of general public, if requested, and copy of written materials, if any.Any other matter if requested by member of public body
21 Minutes (continued)To be available for inspection within 30 days of meeting (even if in draft form)Maintained for 5 years; to be archivedAvailable to subject of closed session upon request or if confidentiality waived
22 Recorded and/or Audiotaped The meeting may be recorded or audio-taped by third party - as long as not disruptive of meetingTape must be retained for at least 1 yearTape must be made available to public – at any time following meeting
23 What Happens if Law Violated? Attorney General may bring action to:Have action declared void (60 days)Obtain injunctive relief to require compliance with law (120 days)Bring a criminal action (6 months)Civil action may be maintained by other than Attorney General
24 Violation (continued) MisdemeanorMember attending a meeting where action is taken in violation of law (with knowledge of violation)Wrongful exclusion of person from meeting
25 Other Meeting MattersCorrection of MinutesPreparation of Agenda
26 Final CommentsDrowning under the open meeting law? Let staff or counsel be your oars: knowledge, experience, advice.
27 Who to Contact Bob Webb Sheri Ingley Nathan Edwards ;Sheri Ingley;Nathan Edwards;