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Board of Selectmen of the Town of Hull, et al. v. Healey (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-054-17)

1 COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS PLYMOUTH, ss. SUPERIOR COURT CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-00161 BOARD OF SELECTMEN OF THE TOWN OF HULL & THE TOWN MANAGER OF THE TOWN OF HULL vs. MAURA HEALEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS In this action, plaintiffs Board of Selectmen of the Board of Hull and the Board Manager of the Board of Hull (collectively “the Board”) seek certiorari review under G. L. c. 249, §4, of a decision made by defendant Attorney General, Maura Healey (“the Attorney General”) that the Board violated Opening Meeting Law, G. L. c. 30A, §21(b)(3), by failing to publicly identify unions in collective bargaining disputes and a claimant in a matter in civil litigation prior to entering executive session to discuss strategy with respect to these matters. Before the Court are cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. The Board seeks an order reversing the Attorney General’s decision and for declaratory relief, and the Attorney General seeks affirmation of her determination. In consideration of the parties’ memoranda of law and oral arguments, and for the reasons that follow, the Board’s motion for judgment on the pleadings is ALLOWED, the Attorney General’s cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings is DENIED, the Attorney General’s order that the Board amend its minutes reflecting the meetings in dispute is VACATED, and this matter is REMANDED to the Attorney General for further review consistent with this decision. The Town’s motion for further declaratory relief is DENIED. 2 FACTS Claims for judicial review of administrative agency proceedings are resolved through motions for judgment on the pleadings under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(c). See Massachusetts Superior Court Standing Order 1-96, §4. The Court’s “review shall be confined to the record.” Id. at §5. “Such record ‘shall consist of … the entire proceedings.’” Id. at §2, quoting G. L. c. 30A, §14. The record in this case, and the relevant law, show the following. Plaintiff Board is a public body, and plaintiff Town Manager of the Town of Hull is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town of Hull. Defendant Maura Healey is the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Open Meeting Law, G. L. c. 30A, §§18-25 (“OML”), requires that, “[e]xcept as provided in section 21, all meetings of a public body shall be open to the public.” G.L. c. 30A, §20(a). Section 21 of the OML allows “[a] public body [to] meet in executive session” for an enumerated purpose, which includes “[t]o discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body and the chair so declares.” G. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - December 22, 2017 at 7:17 pm

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