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Can the public record a public meeting?

Can the public record a public meeting?

(Open Public Meetings Act) Permanent link

The Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) applies to the “governing body of the recognized student association”.  RCW 42.30.200.  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.30.200

The Board of Directors is the “governing body” and therefore they are subject to the OPMA.  You may record their public meetings without needing to request permission.  RCW 42.30.040 prohibits conditions upon the attendance of public meetings.  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.30.040.  My office has construed the prohibition of recording devices as a “condition” upon attendance.  You only need to ensure that your recording is not disruptive.  A member of the public may not reasonably object to privacy concerns since the meeting is public and open to all to attend.  Any objections should be ignored since the law clearly prohibits conditions to attendance.

Ultimately, where a violation of the OPMA occurs, you the citizen must enforce your rights.  There is no state agency that enforces the OPMA.  It is enforced by filing a lawsuit in court.  RCW 42.30.120, 130.  If you prevail in court, then you are entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Here’s a link to the formal opinion by the Attorney General which concludes that the public may record public meetings.  http://www.atg.wa.gov/opinion.aspx?section=archive&id=9332

Posted by Open Government Ombudsman at 07/15/2009 02:51:08 PM 


DISCLAIMER: The "Unredacted" webpage and its content is not intended or offered to provide legal advice or legal representation by the Office of the Attorney General. The attorney general's office provides information, technical assistance, and training on the provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act pursuant to RCW 42.30.210 and provides information to records requestors and state and local agencies about "best practices" for complying with the Public Records Act consistent with the adoption of model rules pursuant to RCW 42.56.570. Send Feedback
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