freedom of speech

Running a Smooth Public Hearing

By C. Christine Fillmore

Nothing New Under the (Legal) Sun: Social Media Traps for the Unwary?

New social media technologies provide dynamic, accessible ways for municipalities to communicate with the public and perhaps with a whole new generation of citizens. However, as with all communication, social media presents a number of legal issues municipalities need to recognize. It may be dressed up as something new, but most social media technologies present similar challenges for local officials as their more traditional counterparts.

Draw a Parallel

Public Meetings and Freedom of Speech: When Do Citizens Have a Right to Speak?

In the months leading up to town meeting, public participation in local government reaches an annual peak. Citizens attend meetings of the board of selectmen, school board, budget committee and planning board and speak at public hearings on proposed budgets, bond issues and zoning ordinances. It all culminates in the discussions, deliberations and votes at the annual meetings. Participation is, of course, encouraged because the vitality of local government is measured by the level of public interest and involvement.

Local Officials Prepare for Election Season

The election season is underway, and, inevitably, numerous questions arise. Moreover, the legislature has recently amended a number of election laws. The following are a few brief reminders and a summary of selected statutory amendments.

Public Events on Community Access Television: Where Free Speech Ends and Individual Rights Begin

Community access television stations are increasingly common across New Hampshire. Most stations broadcast meetings of municipal boards and committees as well as news and events of local interest. These stations serve an important purpose by helping to engage people in local government and increase awareness of local issues, but they are not without risk. Every community that operates or is considering operating a community access television station should take some time to consult with local counsel about the many legal issues that are involved.