February 24, 2014
Question: In the midst of a Massachusetts public meeting, the committee chairperson announced that the meeting would continue in a closed session. When I asked what the committee was going to discuss, he recited language from an exemption in the Open Meeting Law statute. He wouldn’t reveal any additional details. Is that legal? Is there any requirement that the committee provide at least some information about the topics discussed in executive session?
Answer: Under Massachusetts law (G.L. c. 30A, § 21(b)(3)), a public body may not meet in a closed session unless a representative first identifies all subjects to be discussed, to the extent those subjects can be revealed without compromising the purpose for which the executive session was called. That means that, in the vast majority of cases, you are entitled to at least some details about the subject of the meeting.
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