Open Meeting Law

The Town of Calais takes very seriously our obligation to promote transparency and inclusion when it comes to the work of our public officials. State laws regulate how officials and bodies meet and communicate and how and when those communications are recorded. As digital methods become more common, the laws become more complex.

For more information on Open Meeting law, see:

- the Vermont Open Meeting Law statutes: 1 V.S.A. §§ 310–314
- the Secretary of State’s website page,
Open Meetings
"A Guide to Open Meeting Law", also created by the state.* The following text was taken from the guide:

How does a member of the public enforce the open meeting law?

If you think that an open meeting law violation has occurred, the first step is to submit a written notice to the public body, alleging a specific violation and requesting a specific cure. Upon receipt of this written notice, the public body must respond publicly within 10 calendar days, either by acknowledging the violation and stating its intent to cure it or by stating its determination that no violation occurred and so no cure is necessary. Failure to publicly respond is treated as a denial of the violation. 1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(1)–(3).

If the public body acknowledges a violation of the open meeting law, it must cure the violation within 14 calendar days. First, the public body must either ratify, or declare as void, any action that was taken at or resulted from: 1) a meeting that was improperly noticed under 1 V.S.A. § 312(c) (public announcement and posting of regular, special, and emergency meetings); 2) a meeting that a person or the public was wrongfully excluded from attending; or 3) an executive session, or a portion of an executive session, that was not authorized by 1 V.S.A. § 313(a)(1)– (10). Second, the public body must adopt specific measures that actually prevent future violations. 1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(4).

If the public body denies the violation or fails to cure an acknowledged violation in a timely manner, you can file suit against the public body in the Civil Division of the Superior Court in the county where the alleged violation took place. The suit must be brought within one year after 14 the meeting at which the violation occurred or to which the violation relates. The court will then decide whether a violation occurred, whether a declaratory judgment or injunctive relief is appropriate, and whether circumstances require the public body to pay attorney’s fees and litigation costs. 1 V.S.A. § 314(c), (d).
What happens if a public body violates the open meeting law?

The following persons can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500:
• A person who is a member of a public body and who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of the open meeting law.
• A person who, on behalf or at the behest of a member of a public body, knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of the open meeting law.
• A person who knowingly and intentionally participates in the wrongful exclusion of any person or persons from any meeting. 1 V.S.A. § 314(a).

In addition, the Attorney General and any person aggrieved by a violation of the open meeting law has the right to file suit in court, asking for injunctive relief (requiring the board to stop a specified act or behavior) or a declaratory judgment (a binding determination of the parties’ rights). Under some circumstances, the court may also hold a public body responsible for the other party’s attorney’s fees and litigation costs. 1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(1), (d).

See also the full statutory language in the following document, 1 V.S.A. § 314

*Because there were significant updates to the Open Meeting Law in 2024, some of the information in the guide may be outdated. When a new guide is available, it will be updated here.