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Sun Jun 23, 2019, 03:38 AM

Splintered Arkansas Supreme Court puts a crack in public meeting law

A fractured Arkansas Supreme Court today opened the door for private discussion of public business by e-mail, though it could have been worse had a couple of justices had their way.

The case was an appeal by Fort Smith of a lower court ruling that the Freedom of Information Act provision relating to open meetings had been violated when three city directors and the city administrator discussed by e-mail changing civil service rules on police promotions.

No final decision was reached in the exchange of e-mails. But the e-mails discussed various options, city directors expressed preferences and, ultimately, in a public meeting, adopted something one of the directors had advocated.

In an opinion written by Justice Courtney Goodson, the Supreme Court rejected the city’s argument that an exchange of e-mails could not be deemed a meeting. The court long ago held that private telephone conversations were meetings and it said today there was “no material difference” between telephone discussions and e-mail discussions.

Read more: https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2019/06/20/splintered-arkansas-supreme-court-puts-a-crack-in-public-meeting-law

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