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Article
Let the Sunshine In, or Else: An Examination of the “Teeth” of State and Federal Open Meetings and Open Records Laws
Communication Law & Policy (2010)
  • Daxton R Stewart, Texas Christian University
Abstract

Public access laws are at the heart of transparent democracy, in place to ensure that government meetings and records are open to the public. However, compliance with these laws is often problematic, a fact that can be attributed, in part, to ineffective remedies available for violations of state and federal open government laws. This study examines the enforcement provisions of the public access laws in jurisdictions across the United States to explore the remedies available, including equitable relief such as injunctions and mandamus, actual and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and civil and criminal sanctions. Structural difficulties were revealed that can make these remedies toothless for people unlawfully denied access. The article concludes by suggesting improvements such as enhanced and uniform penalties, more consistent enforcement, and alternatives to litigation.

Keywords
  • Freedom of Information,
  • Enforcement,
  • Sunshine Law,
  • FOIA
Disciplines
Publication Date
2010
Citation Information
Daxton R Stewart. "Let the Sunshine In, or Else: An Examination of the “Teeth” of State and Federal Open Meetings and Open Records Laws" Communication Law & Policy Vol. 15 Iss. 3 (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daxton_stewart/4/