North Dakota Open Meetings Statute
The North Dakota Open Meetings Statute legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statutes 44-04-17.1 through 44-04-21.2 of the North Dakota Code define the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in North Dakota. For more information go the page or go to North Dakota sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
We do not currently have any pages on open meetings litigation in North Dakota.
Proposed open meetings legislation
We do not currently have any legislation for North Dakota in 2010.
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law states that a meeting is any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body, whether it be in person or through electronic means, in order to discuss and decide on public business. The act also includes all meetings of less than a quorum if the public body holds a series of similar gatherings so that the attendance at the series constitutes a quorum of members.
Notable exemptions to this definition include:
- Chance or social gatherings where public business is not discussed
- emergency operations during a disaster
- attendance at any national, regional, or state association
- Single party legislative caucuses so long as they do not meet on public property
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as any multi-member bodies of the state and its political subdivisions responsible for decisions made on behalf of the public and created by state or local law or executive order. The definition also includes any groups whose authority has been delegated to them by public bodies or who receive or dispense public funds.
The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at North Dakota Statute 44-04-17.1.13 and is subject to the North Dakota Open Meetings Statute. However, legislative caucuses are exempt from the law.
All bodies, except for the legislature are encouraged to establish a regular schedule of meetings which they must keep on file at the office of the secretary of state or the local clerk. For meetings outside of the regular schedule notice must be posted and provided to any news agencies who request at the same time that notice is sent to member of the public body. For emergency meetings, the body is required to notify any news media who have requested notification.
The law requires that public bodies permit any individual to record and broadcast public meetings, so long as it does not interfere with the conduct of the meeting. Public bodies are also obligated to take minutes, which must include the time and date of the meeting, the members in attendance, all topics discussed at the meeting and the result of every vote. Voting must be done in public and recorded in detail.
|Common executive session exemptions|
|Personal privacy (including employees)|
|Purchase or sale of property|
|Exempt under other laws|
Executive closed sessions can be held with a majority vote for the following reasons:
- Anything falling within the attorney-client privilege, until the completion of the trial and appeal process
- to discuss records exempt under the North Dakota Open Records Statute
- to sequester bidders in a closed bidding session
An audio recording of all executive sessions must be maintained and released for judicial purposes. No final action can be taken during an executive session and the topics of the executive session are limited to the reasons provided for calling the executive session.
Anyone may request an opinion from the attorney general on violations of the open meetings law, so long as they request the meeting within 90 days of the meeting violation. If the attorney general finds a violation, the public body has 7 days to correct the violation. Failure to comply with an attorney generals opinion results in the possibility that the public agency would be responsible for attorney fees and that the public agency must pay for their own counsel. Action in superior court must be filed within 60 days of the violation or 30 days of the release of the attorney general's opinion, whichever is later. If a violation is found, courts may void any action taken during the meeting in question, award attorney fees and issue fines of up to $1000. If the court corrects the violation prior to the ruling, no damages will be assessed.
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