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Open Meetings Act Violations and Later “Ratification”

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reiterated that a public body has the authority to approve prior decisions of that public body which are void because of a violation under Michigan’s Open Meetings Act (the “OMA”).  In Lockwood v Township of Ellington (decided on March 13, 2018), the township failed to provide proper public notice of a rescheduled township board meeting at which two citizens were appointed to the township’s planning commission.  At a later (properly held and noticed) township board meeting, two other citizens were appointed to the planning commission instead.  The initial planning commission appointees subsequently filed a lawsuit against the township.  In upholding the township board’s later appointments, the Court of Appeals noted that an action taken at a meeting held in violation of the OMA has no force or effect; however, a public body may later “ratify” decisions that were made at that previous defective meeting.  In this case, the township board failed to later “ratify” the initial planning commission appointments, instead opting to appoint two different citizens at a later township board meeting.  Accordingly, the later appointments were found to be valid because, without “ratification,” the earlier appointments were void.
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