Brian Ames, Portage County’s unparalleled pro se litigant, is an expert in Ohio’s Open Meetings Act. He continued his victory streak when the 11th District Appellate Court released another opinion that established some important precedents, State ex rel. Ames v. Brimfield Twp. Bd. of Trustees, 2019-Ohio-5311.
To read the complete ruling follow this link: 2019-Ohio-5311
Here are some important decisions made by the 11th District in this case:
If a regular or special meeting of the public body is called, and the meeting minutes reflect the board has adjourned to executive session, it does not follow that the board is no longer in a meeting. The board remains in the regular or special meeting if it has not adjourned. The executive session is just that–a session of the regular or special meeting that takes place in a non-public setting. ¶17
We agree with the First and Twelfth Appellate Districts’ analysis. R.C. 121.22(G) lists the matters a public body may consider privately in an executive session, including matters of imminent or pending litigation when discussed with the public body’s counsel, R.C. 121.22(G)(3), and matters required to be kept confidential by state or federal law, R.C. 121.22(G)(5). These exceptions embody the attorney-client privilege with regard to public bodies under the OMA. The General Assembly limited the circumstances in which such a discussion can be held in executive session, thus requiring a partial waiver of the privilege outside of R.C. 121.22(G). To hold otherwise would render meaningless the specific exception set forth in R.C. 121.22(G)(3). Therefore, the trial court erred when it applied a separate, common law privilege to the Board’s communications outside of the exceptions contained in R.C. 121.22(G). ¶27
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