minutes

Legal Q and A: Right to Know Law: Disclosure of ‘Draft’ Documents

A core principle of the Right to Know Law involves the right of citizens to inspect and copy governmental records. Questions often arise about documents and electronic communications that are created as staff and officials study an issue, deliberate about how best to approach the matter, and review and refine language of policies, ordinances, or adjudicative decisions. These documents will likely contain information that is incomplete and language that will ultimately be rejected prior to approval by public bodies.

Legal Q&A: Of Meeting Minutes and Machines

By Paul G. Sanderson, staff attorney with the New Hampshire Local Government Center's Legal Services and Government Affairs Department

Minutes must be created to record the result of meetings of public bodies in order to comply with the Right to Know Law. However, when recording equipment is used, the issues become more complex, and other statutes become involved. In the end, some decisions need to be made by public bodies about how to record meetings, whether the recordings should be preserved and, if so, in what format. The answers are not always straightforward.

Sealing of Nonpublic Session Meeting Minutes

By Kimberly A. Hallquist, staff attorney with the New Hampshire Local Government Center's Legal Services and Government Affairs Department

A great deal of confusion exists over "sealed" meeting minutes, probably because the term "sealed" suggests that the meeting minutes are somehow literally sealed and unavailable for viewing-by anyone, forever. This is not the case.

Q. What does it mean "to seal" meeting minutes?

Meeting Minutes 101

Boards often wrestle with taking meeting minutes—worrying that too much information will get them in trouble if an issue goes to court. This fear is balanced against the desire of board members to make sure their minutes are informative and helpful to citizens and to the board itself. Does the law require that meeting minutes contain certain information? Is it better to be brief and vague when preparing the minutes? Should meetings be tape recorded so that greater detail can be put into the minutes?