Massachusetts law about open meetings

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on open meetings law.

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Table of Contents


Updated guidance on holding meetings pursuant to the Act Extending Certain COVID-19 Measures, Mass. Attorney General, regarding St. 2022, c.107, which extended the remote meeting provisions of COVID-19 Order #1 to March 31, 2023.

Governor's Order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting law, G.L. c.30A, § 20, March 12, 2020. 

St.2021, c.20, § 20 An act relative to extending certain COVID-19 measures adopted during the state of emergency 
Amended by St.2021, c.29 § 57 Public bodies do not have to meet in a place that is open and physically accessible to the public; provisions extended through April 1, 2022. 

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.

Massachusetts laws

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

Massachusetts regulations

940 CMR 29 Open Meeting Law regulations


Open Meeting Law complaint form, Mass. Attorney General.

Selected case law

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 chapter 39, sec. 29B.

Three Registered Voters v. Lynnfield Board of Selectmen, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 15 (2016)
"Discussion of the new provisions of the open meeting law, G. L. c. 30A, §§ 18-25."

Web sources

Municipal Advocate magazine, Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Includes articles on local government including: To Tweet or not to tweet? Social media, public records and the open meeting law and Law: SJC decision guides Open Meeting Law compliance.

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 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 video training, Mass. Attorney General.
"The videos below, created by the Attorney General's Division of Open Government, are a resource for members of the public and public bodies who want to learn about the open meeting law. The presentation is divided up into six videos, and is current as of March 2018. You may view the six videos in succession to cover the entire presentation, or you may select specific videos on topics of interest."

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, 2020.


Last updated: November 25, 2022

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