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Violating the Open Meeting Act

December 7th, 2018 at 11:19 pm

IL defense attorneyThe university president and board of trustees to Western Illinois University are currently under investigation for violating the Open Meeting Act, which mandates that all public entities, such as government bodies and public universities, hold meetings in the open for the public’s right of access. The University Professionals of Illinois has requested that the McDonough County State Attorney’s Office pursue a criminal investigation into the president and board’s actions after an audio recording revealed their closed meeting discussion. Among the violations alleged by the University Professionals of Illinois are:

  • Planning illegal closed meetings;
  • Discussing public business in closed meetings;
  • Scripting public meetings;
  • Failure to release closed session meetings; and
  • Circumventing the law with “2 plus 2″ meetings.

Furthermore, the University Professionals of Illinois believes that there were at least 21 closed meetings within the last three years. But what exactly is the Open Meeting Act and how does it apply to those with public positions?

The Purpose of the Open Meeting Act

The Open Meeting Act under statute 5 ILCS 120 has two main objectives. The first is to keep citizens informed about the conduct of public bodies. This is made possible by enforcing open meetings. No public entity can conduct meetings behind closed doors. The second objective is to allow citizens advance notice of public meetings and the right to attend these meetings. The Act is designed to thwart corruption and other actions that would corrode society’s best interests.

What Is a Public Body?

The Open Meeting Act of Illinois covers all “public bodies.” Public bodies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Legislative, executive, administrative, and advisory bodies of:
    • The State;
    • Counties;
    • Townships;
    • Cities;
    • Villages;
    • Incorporated towns;
    • School districts; and
    • Other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees, and commissions of the State.

What Are the Consequences of Being Found Guilty of Violating the Open Meeting Act?

While a Class C misdemeanor is the lowest type of criminal offense, it does not come without serious consequences. A Class C misdemeanor involves a fine and a criminal record if the defendant is found guilty. Such a charge will undoubtedly follow a professional or public official throughout the rest of the lives and will surely diminish the future of their career, their social status within their community, and their personal relationships. Moreover, every violation of the Open Meetings Act can be charged as an offense by itself, meaning that if a defendant allegedly violated this law dozens of times, they could be charged with dozens of offenses. Only an experienced Cook County criminal defense attorney can help you navigate these criminal charges.

Contact a Cook County Criminal Attorney Today

Violations of the Open Meeting Act are serious and are pursued with extreme vigor by the prosecution and media. Your career, reputation, and finances are at serious risk if you have been charged with this offense. We urge you to contact dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200 to schedule a free consultation at once.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=84&ChapterID=2

https://wqad.com/2018/11/19/wiu-board-admits-to-breaking-the-law/

 

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