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Delaware Department of Justice
Attorney General
Kathy Jennings




 Pages Categorized With: "10002(g) Meeting"

07-IB01 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Town of Milton

The Complainant, Senator Karen E. Peterson, asked whether the public record requirements of the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), apply to the courts of the State of Delaware. Held: the General Assembly intended to exclude the judiciary from the application of FOIA. The language of FOIA demonstrates a legislative intent to respect the independence of the judiciary as a separate, co-equal branch of government and the judiciary’s right to control access to its records and proceedings by court rule.

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06-IB20: Re Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Christina School District Board of Education

Complainant alleged that the Christina School District Board of Education violated the open meeting requirements of FOIA by meeting twice in private at an open meeting to discuss matters of public business without notice to the public. HELD: The facts show that, collectively, five Board members participated in the two meetings with the Superintendent to discuss reductions in force and tax warrants. This amounted to a constructive quorum for purposes of FOIA because the meetings were scheduled only a few hours apart, the subjects discussed were the same, and the School Board acknowledges the meetings went beyond the mere passive receipt of information.

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06-IB16: Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Town of Smyrna

Complainant alleged that four members of the Smyrna Town Council violated FOIA by meeting privately to discuss a matter of public business. The four members denied meeting to discuss public business, but submitted affidavits swearing that they each contacted the Town manager separately to raise similar concerns. HELD: A constructive quorum may occur when the members of a public body, sufficient in number to constitute a quorum, engage in an interactive exchange of thoughts and opinions and the members are asked to vote or adopt a particular point of view or reach a consensus on what action to take. In this case, there were several one-on-one discussions between three members of the Council, but those serial discussions did not involve a quorum of the seven member Council so as to trigger the potential application of the open meeting laws.

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06-IB03: Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Town of Smyrna

Complainant alleged that the Smyrna Town Council violated FOIA’s open meeting laws by holding a meeting, which was attended by two council members, without notice to the public to discuss an amendment to the Town’s Charter. The Town argued that the meeting was not a “public meeting” as defined by FOIA because a quorum of the members did not attend, and the two members in attendance did not constitute a subcommittee or ad hock committee subject to open meeting law. HELD: When a public body holds a “joint meeting” of various constituents and members of the public body, the AGs office determines: (i) whether this group of individuals from different organizations amounted to a public body under FOIA; and (ii) if not, whether the representatives present at the meeting constituted an ad hoc or subcommittee of the public body. In this case, the people in attendance at the meeting did not amount to a public body under FOIA. There was also no evidence in the record that suggested the Town appointed or established a committee that was represented at the challenged meeting.

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05-IB03: Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint

The Complainant alleged a town council member violated FOIA by holding a series of personal meetings with four different members of the council (five members constituted a quorum) without public notice which resulted in a letter produced on Town stationary regarding the result of the conversations. Held: this violated FOIA because the meetings were determined to be more than “the passive receipt of information” and the sum of these communications (the letter signed by the council members) amounted to a meeting of a public body covered by FOIA and as such the lack of public notice constituted a violation of FOIA. An additional compliant was not a violation because the public workshop was rescheduled and proper notice was given prior to it being held.

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04-IB21 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Sussex County Council

Del. Op. Atty. Gen. 04-IB21 (Del.A.G.), 2004 WL 5249147 Office of the Attorney General State of Delaware Opinion No. 04–IB21 December 20, 2004 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Sussex County Council *1 Mr. Daniel J. Kramer 8041 Scotts Store Road Greenwood, DE 19950 Dear Mr. Kramer: On November 4, 2004, our Office received […]

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03-IB11 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against City of Newark

The Complainant alleged that the City of Newark (“the City”) violated FOIA by meeting via an exchange of e-mails without notice to the public or an opportunity for the public to participate. Held: the City violated FOIA when, in an exchange of e-mails over the course of March 13-14, 2002, the City’s Nominating Committee discussed public business without notice to the public and without an opportunity for the public to observe.

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01-IB10: Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaints Against Sussex County Council

The Complainant alleged that the Sussex County Council violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by (i) giving inadequate notice of a public “workshop” to discuss hurricane evacuation strategies and beach traffic; and (ii) giving inadequate notice of its consideration of the issuance of $4.5 million in bonds at committee and council meetings. Held: With respect to the “workshop,” the Attorney General rejected the council’s contention that it did not need to provide notice because no formal action was taken at the meeting. Fact gathering and discussion meetings such as the one at issue fall squarely within the open meeting requirements of FOIA. Given the nature of the meeting, however, no remediation was required for this violation. As for the committee and council meetings, the Attorney General found that the agenda item indicating that an application by a specific company would be considered at the meeting was insufficient notice when the nature of the application – a request for the issuance of $4.5 million in industrial revenue bonds – was not described at all. As a remedial measure, the Attorney General ordered the application process to start again, from the beginning, with a duly noticed meeting.

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96-IB26: Re: Freedom of Information Complaint Sussex County Council

The Complainant alleged that a number of Sussex County Council members visited a manufactured housing facility in Pennsylvania, possibly in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. The Complainant alleged that a quorum of County Council members toured the facility. The Council stated that attendance was voluntary and a quorum was not present. Held: the group touring the facility was not a public body because they were not appointed as a committee by the Council, attendance was voluntary and there was no indication that any report or recommendation was made to the Council by the members who attended.

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96-IB02: Freedom of Information Act regarding Newark City Council

The Complainant requested an investigation into three meetings the Newark City Council held with the University of Delaware. These meetings were not open to the public and no record was kept. Newark City Council argued that no quorum was present at any of the meetings and, therefore, the meetings were not those of a public body. Held: ad hoc committees are considered public bodies and the breakdown of council members into three groups is the formation of ad hoc committees. The formation of three ad hoc committees to meet with the same university staff to discuss essentially the same topics was a scheme to avoid compliance with FOIA.

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