The Norman Transcript

April 5, 2014

Suing for more openness

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Enforcement of the state’s Open Meetings Act always has been at the discretion of the state’s district attorneys. Some place a low priority on violations, often using the occasion to educate public officials about the law rather than prosecuting them.

A bill currently circulating in the state Legislature would allow individuals the ability to sue public entities that are suspected of violating the Open Meetings Act.

The real carrot here is that a plaintiff would have the ability to recover legal expenses if the case is found in their favor. That means attorneys would be able to pursue such cases under contingency fee arrangements.

The flip side is that the plaintiffs could be liable for legal costs if the court found in favor of the defendants. Just the threat of civil lawsuits could limit the number of violations.

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