Posted on Jul 14, 2003 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 03-12
July 14, 2003
Attendance at Executive Meetings by Parties
Other Than Council or Board Members

[NOTE: This opinion has been partially overruled by County of Kauai v. OIP, 120 Haw. 34 (2009). Based on the decision in that case by the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, OIP interprets section 92-5(a)(4), HRS, as allowing a board’s attorney to participate in an entire executive meeting, even when the executive meeting is called for a purpose other than to consult with the board’s attorney.]

A county council and its Corporation Counsel asked the OIP to issue an opinion after a member of the public questioned the county council’s practices of: (1) allowing non-council members to attend executive meetings, and (2) permitting more than one attorney from the Office of the Corporation Counsel to attend executive meetings.

When, in order to accomplish the purpose of convening an executive meeting, a board requires the assistance of non-board members, a board is authorized under the Sunshine Law to summon the non-board members to participate in the closed board meeting.

Furthermore, more than one of a board’s attorneys may attend an executive meeting to advise the board concerning the board’s powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities.

Non-board members should remain at the meeting only so long as their presence is essential to the agenda item being considered in the executive meeting. Once the agenda item for which the non-board member’s participation is needed has been concluded, the non-board member should be excused.

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