Government Works for You – and You Have the Right to Inspect that Work
You pay taxes. Whether you pay them at the cash register, on your Louisiana State Income Tax Return, on the assessment on your home – or all three – government only works because you pay for it. And you have the right to inspect that work. Louisiana’s Constitution, provides, at Article 12, Section 3, that:
“No person shall be denied the right to observe the deliberations of public bodies and examine public documents, except in cases established by law.”
This provision, and the cases that interpret the Louisiana Public Records Law and the Louisiana Open Meetings Law, protect your right to access government meetings and records.
As counsel to citizens and media seeking information from government and quasi-government agencies, Sternberg, Naccari & White has litigated public records and open government issues across Louisiana. Our breadth of experience and knowledge in public records and open meetings is of the highest caliber in the state. SNW attorneys are regularly quoted in the media as subject matter analysts on open government issues.
The Open Meetings Law Preserves Your Right to Advance Notice of Public Meetings
The Louisiana Open Meetings Law requires that most meetings of government bodies be noticed 24 hours before they start, and that the agenda be specific about what is to be discussed at the meeting. Certain laws also provide for the ability to comment before agenda items or before a meeting. Government bodies can meet privately in “Executive Session” only for specific reasons—including the character and competence of public employees and discussion of ongoing litigation—and the vote to go into an “Executive Session” must be public.
At SNW, we have extensive experience challenging Open Meetings Law violations. Read Scott Sternberg’s comments on alleged Open Meetings Law Violations by the City of New Orleans and a local charter school board.
The Louisiana Open Meetings Law provides remedies to a citizen whose rights have been violated, and provides for attorneys’ fees and costs in many situations. Contact Sternberg, Naccari & White for your free consultation on open meetings law violations.
The Public Records Law Grants You Access to Government Documents
Any use of government funds or exercise of government power creates a record that you have a right to access through the Louisiana Public Records Law, La. R.S. 44:1 et seq. . There are a number of exceptions in the law, but the Courts have held that the right of access is very broad, and public records custodians know that. Requests for public records should be made to a custodian and must be appropriately specific and narrow. Custodians can charge for copies of records, but not for viewing or for redaction.
Public records are an important window into government at all levels. A number of online resources exist to help you make requests, such as the “Sunshine Headquarters” at the Public Affairs Research Council, which SNW Attorney Scott Sternberg helped revamp in 2011. Scott has been quoted numerous times in the local and national media on the Public Records Law, alleged violations in North Louisiana and developments on public records in the Louisiana Legislature. As counsel to the Louisiana Press Association, he works with legislators and stakeholders to ensure your right to review records is preserved.
The Louisiana Public Records Law provides remedies to a citizen whose rights have been violated, and provides for attorneys’ fees and costs in many situations. Contact Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC for your free consultation on Public Records Law violations.