Massachusetts law about open meetings

Laws, regulations, cases and web sources on open meetings law.

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Table of Contents

Best bet

The Open Meeting Law, Mass. Attorney General.
The starting place for the large collection of resources from the attorney general, including the law, regulations, documents, complaint form and more. The temporary provisions in the Guidance pertaining to remote access and the Open Meeting Law have been extended to March 31, 2025.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.30A, §§ 18-25 Mass. Open Meeting Law

Massachusetts regulations

940 CMR 29 Open Meeting Law regulations

Forms

Open Meeting Law complaint form, Mass. Attorney General.

Selected cases

Boelter v.  Wayland, 479 Mass. 233 (2018) 
"A town's board of selectmen (board) violated the open meeting law, G. L. c. 30A, § 20 (a), in its performance review of the town administrator, where individual and composite evaluations of the town administrator that the board's chair circulated to board members via electronic mail prior to the meeting expressed the opinions of a majority of board members to a quorum in advance of the public meeting, in effect constituting a deliberation or meeting to which the public did not have access."

District Attorney for the Northern District v. Wayland School Committee, 455 Mass. 561 (2009)
"Prior to conducting an open meeting, the school committee commenced a private e-mail exchange in order to deliberate the superintendent's professional competence. This violated the letter and spirit of the open meeting law. Governmental bodies may not circumvent the requirements of the open meeting law by conducting deliberations via private messages, whether electronically, in person, over the telephone, or in any other form."

District Attorney for the Plymouth District v. Board of Selectmen of Middleborough, 395 Mass. 629 (1985)
The Board could not hold executive sessions for purposes other than those enumerated in MGL c.39, § 29B.

Three Registered Voters v. Lynnfield Board of Selectmen, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 15 (2016)
"There is no requirement in the open meeting law for public discussion of an open meeting law complaint prior to the public body sending its response to the complaint to the Attorney General."

Web sources

Newsgathering in Massachusetts, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, May 2013.
Covers open meetings, public records law, access to courts and court records, recording public officials and more, with extensive footnotes to primary law sources.

Open Meeting Law determination lookup, Mass. Attorney General, Division of Open Government.
Browse or search determinations by the office regarding issues concerning the open meetings law.  Pending complaints here.

Open Meeting Law educational materials, Mass. Attorney General.
Detailed coverage of every aspect of the open meeting law. Also has Public body checklists, which includes entering into executive session, posting a meeting notice, and creating & approving minutes of meetings

Open Meeting Law trainings, Mass. Attorney General.
Learn more about the Open Meeting Law with in-person and online trainings from the Attorney General's Office.

Open meetings, public records, ethics laws, Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Also includes articles on local government:

Print sources

Administrative law and practice, 2nd ed. (Mass Practice v.39) Thomson Reuters, 2016 with supplement. Chapters 16 and 18.

Freedom of information and public records law in Massachusetts : a discussion of the mechanics of the public records law and the impact of the law's application, Rebecca S. Murray, MCLE New England, 2015, chapter 15.

Massachusetts municipal law, 2nd ed., MCLE, Chapter 26 Open Meeting Law.

Municipal law and practice, 5th ed. (Mass Practice v.18) Thomson/West, 2006 with supplement. Chapter 8.

Public records and open meeting law, MCLE, 2023.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about open meetings

Last updated: May 30, 2023

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