Friday, November 13, 2009

Appeals court sides with newspaper, rejecting Lexington council's plan to close meeting

One of the more routinely abused exceptions to the Kentucky Open Meetings Act is the one that allows closed sessions for "proposed or pending litigation." Today the state Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling that kept the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council from using that as an excuse to close a meeting "to discuss the city's response to a request before the state Public Service Commission by Kentucky American Water to build a $162 million treatment plant and pipeline," reports Andy Mead of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The Herald-Leader objected to the closure, prompting a hearing in which Circuit Judge Sheila Isaac agreed with the newspaper and ordered the meeting to remain open. "The city later asked Isaac to reconsider, but the judge dismissed the case without ruling on the litigation exception' issue," Mead reports. "The city took the case to the appeals court, seeking a blanket ruling that the exception applies in all administrative proceedings."

The unanimous three-judge panel noted that the law requires its exceptions to be "strictly construed," and "said that the city failed to show that the same set of circumstances would occur again," Mead reports. (Read more)

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