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Frazier Beats Baltimore Law Firm in Taneytown City Council Open Meetings Act Violations

Katherine Adelaide

Pro Se citizen Robin Frazier, armed with one paralegal and one witness, proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the Taneytown City Council violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act four times during the June 22, 2016 closed meeting at City Hall.

Visiting Judge Daniels from Baltimore complemented Frazier and her team of two on presenting their case against the City Council of Taneytown and stated that she did better than some seasoned litigation attorneys. This lawsuit was Frazierís first pro se appearance in Circuit Court.

Judge Daniels found that the Council violated the Open Meetings Act when there was no notice given to the public of an open meeting, neglecting to give citizens the right to observe their elected officials debate and decide whether or not to hold a closed meeting on a particular topic. Three other violations included failure to produce a written statement of the purpose for closing a meeting before the vote to close, failure to produce minutes for the alleged "open meeting," and failure to comply with all of the requirements for closed meeting minutes.

However, the most recent 2014 Open Meetings Act revisions included proof of "willfulness" which has not been defined yet in Maryland courts, until today. The judge found that the Councilsí failures to comply were not "willful" and ruled in favor of the Defendants, setting a precedent which may make it easier for public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act to hold secret meetings which violates the spirit of the law . Frazier has thirty days to appeal the decision.

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