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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

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.30A, s.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 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

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

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.

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.

Open Meeting Law Determinations, Mass. Attorney General, August 2010-date
Look up determinations by date. 

Open Meeting Law Video Training, Mass. Attorney General
"This presentation has been recorded by the Attorney General's Division of Open Government to serve as a resource to members of the public and public bodies seeking to understand the requirements of the Open Meeting Law. The presentation is divided up into six videos, and is current as of August 2015. The run time for all six videos together is about one hour. 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

Massachusetts Practice, vol. 18 (Municipal Law) West Group, with supplement, chapter 8

Massachusetts Practice vol. 39 (Administrative Law and Practice) West Pub. Co., with supplement, chapters 16 and 18

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza,
9th Floor,
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: May 24, 2018

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