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The Ohio Sunshine Laws Permit Executive Session Deliberations for Quasi-Judicial Proceedings

In the case of Nosse v. Kirtland, 2022-Ohio-4161, the appellate court held that the city council did not violate the Open Meetings Act (R.C. 121.22) by formally terminating a police chief after the city council deliberated upon the matter in executive session despite the police chief demanding a public hearing in open session.

In this case, the police chief argued that there was an open meeting violation because the entire hearing must be conducted in open session including, but not limited to, deliberation. In response, the city argued that there was no open meeting violation as the city granted the police chief’s request for a public hearing on removal, the hearing was held, the police chief was permitted to present evidence and argument in the police chief’s defense while represented by counsel, and the city council properly deliberated in executive session. The appellate court agreed with the city.

In support of its decision, the appellate court explained “that the decision to hold deliberations and review evidence in executive session does not provide a claim for relief under the Open Meetings Act” in “quasi-judicial proceedings.” 2022-Ohio-4161 at ¶ 28.

As there was no open meeting violation to nullify city council’s termination of the police chief, the appellate court affirmed the termination and explained that, “[e]ven if the Council and court had not considered conduct committed while ‘off duty,’ the use of racially derogatory language, statements about employees’ sexual conduct, concerns expressed by employees that he was frequently distracted or not present in the office, and drinking in his office were valid concerns relating to his conduct in his role of police chief that supported the finding made below.” 2022-Ohio-4161 at ¶ 42.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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