Senator Saland Introduces Legislation Allowing For Reimbursement Of Attorney Fees Related To Open Meetings Law

Stephen M. Saland

April 12, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie), today announced that he has introduced legislation that would award the costs and fees in proceedings to enforce a violation of New York State’s Open Meetings Law.

"The Open Meetings Law was enacted to ensure that the deliberations of elected bodies are open to the public and in turn, to ensure accountability and public debate," said Saland.

Current law has had a discouraging effect on those organizations who seek to hold their elected officials more accountable. Often, individuals who seek enforcement of the Open Meetings Statute have limited resources available to litigate noncompliance, Saland continued.

"This legislation addresses this problem by requiring that a party who successfully brings an action establishing a violation of the Open Meetings Law, shall be awarded costs and reasonable attorneys' fees by the court. Courts still have the discretion to award costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to a public body, for example, in the case of a frivolous lawsuit," Saland concluded.