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Fundamentals of the Sunshine Law

OnDemand Webinar (90 minutes)

Understand the principles behind sunshine laws and how best to implement them effectively.

Sunshine laws are designed to ensure that people may access governmental records and the deliberative decision-making process of elected officials in order to be informed citizens. Yet there are times when the government best protects the interests of the public or the personal information of individuals by withholding or redacting public records or meeting outside of the public eye. The principles behind sunshine laws are straightforward, yet their provisions can be difficult to apply. This topic helps legal practitioners, government employees, elected officials, and journalists to identify fundamental features of both public record request laws and open meetings laws. Without an understanding of the nuances of sunshine laws, government employees and elected officials risk bad media publicity or possibly could face disciplinary action, lawsuits, and penalties. Armed with the fundamentals of sunshine laws, journalists are equipped with the skills to better obtain information for reporting. This topic is critical for legal practitioners in state and local government law in order for them to implement sunshine laws effectively.


Maryam Judar, Citizen Advocacy Center


Sunshine Laws

• Principles and Purpose

Public Record Request Laws

• What Are Public Records?

• Who Can Make Public Record Requests?

• May Public Record Requesters Remain Anonymous?

• What Governmental Entities Must Comply?

• What Are Common Exceptions That Allow Governments to Withhold Records?

• What Are Common Procedures Provided for in Public Record Request Laws?

• What Remedies Exist for Violations of Public Record Request Laws?

Open Meetings Laws

• What Is a Meeting?

• What Governmental Entities Must Comply?

• What Are Common Exceptions That Allow Governmental Boards to Hold Closed Meetings?

• What Are Common Notice Requirements for Open Meetings?

• What Remedies Exist for Violations of Open Meetings Laws?

Current Sunshine Laws Cases and Controversies

• Criminal Prosecution for Willful Violation of Sunshine Laws

• Third Party Records and the Confidentiality Exception

• Electronic Communications

• Public Comment and the First Amendment