Idaho AG won’t require Ada commissioners to pay fine

From the Idaho Statesman

By Cynthia Sewell

The state has put an end to the ongoing lawsuit over a closed-door meeting more than two years ago between the Ada County commissioners and a Boise city councilman.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has decided not to pursue fining commissioners for an open meeting act violation that occurred during a June 2005 executive session. At the meeting, commissioners met with a Boise city council member to talk about intergovernmental relations and a possible lawsuit over a pending housing development.

The commissioners denied any wrongdoing.

In March 2006 the district court ruled the county committed two violations of the open meeting law: holding an executive session without a lawyer present and not keeping a written record of the vote to go into the session.

Each commissioner received a $150 fine. The commissioners appealed that decision to Idaho’s highest court, maintaining the state’s open meeting law is confusing and ambiguous.

In May of this year the Idaho Supreme Court sided with the commissioners in their argument that they were allowed under existing law to meet behind closed doors without a lawyer present. The court sided against the county on the other violation.

The court sent back to a lower court the question of whether commissioners knowingly violated the open meeting law, thereby making them subject to a fine. According to an Aug. 23 court order dismissing the case, “The parties agree that in the best interests of justice and to avoid unnecessary expenditures of further public funds, no fine will be sought.”

From the Idaho Statesman

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