National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Sunshine Law violation shows need for legal certainty

Sunshine Law violation shows need for legal certainty

Even the most well intended government negotiations can run afoul of Florida's tough Sunshine Law, as the city of Jacksonville discovered in a court ruling last week.

A circuit court judge found the city guilty of breaking open-government laws over private talks on proposed changes in police and firefighter pensions. The defendants argued that the negotiations fell outside Sunshine restrictions because a federal court-ordered mediation in the case, justifying the privacy. The judge rejected that reasoning. Now the city's on the hook for the plaintiff's legal bills.

Had Jacksonville officials consulted with the state attorney general's office, they would have learned that the Sunshine Law exemption in section 286.011(8) does not apply to mandatory and binding arbitration. That legal opinion on open-government issues is just one of many the attorney general addresses annually in response to queries. Continue>>>