Clearcreek Township officials violated state law by holding secret meetings, a Warren County judge ruled Tuesday.
Warren County Common Pleas Court Judge James Flannery found that township officials violated Ohio’s Open Meetings Act on multiple occasions when they attended informal meetings in the township administrator’s office prior to the public session to discuss agenda items and other matters.
The judge, noting that violations are “likely to reoccur,” issued an injunction against future violations.
“Public bodies are not free to ignore the Sunshine Law no matter how beneficently motivated,” Flannery wrote in his ruling.
The law requires that public officials take official action and conduct all “deliberations upon official business” only in open meetings unless the subject matter is specifically exempt by law.
It defines meetings as any prearranged discussion of public business that includes a quorum of the public body.
The suit, brought by resident Jack Chrisman against the township and current trustee Glenn “Ed” Wade, accused township officials of violating state law on six occasions in 2009-2011 when public business was discussed by a majority of the three-member board in the pre-meeting sessions.
The public was not invited, nor did trustees give notice of the meetings or file minutes of what was discussed, he argued.