July 6, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Bevarly
Executive Director, NFOIC
Another instance where the pandemic has been used by a public body to validate holding a public meeting without the public (17 meetings actually) has resulted in another lawsuit. Although COVID-19 has created challenges for state and local public bodies to convene, the pandemic does not relieve states, counties, or municipalities from abiding by their state’s open government law.
In Osceola County, Florida, the board of commissioners have been charged with repeatedly denying access to meeting minutes and public access to meetings of the county's Executive Policy Group (EPG), which is a decision-making board during a state of emergency.
The lawsuit, filed by Osceola County resident Josh Meyers, claims the meetings must be public due to EPG's status as a public body whose deliberations fall under Florida’s Sunshine Law. According to the complaint, no effort has been made to give official notice or provide a remote viewing opportunity, or make recordings promptly available for viewing thereafter.
The Knight FOI Litigation Fund offers financial support for open government lawsuits. It was established to fuel and assist the pursuit of important FOI cases by helping to defray upfront costs such as filing fees, depositions, court costs, and other expenses associated with legal actions. The fund is underwritten by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to NFOIC.