Posted on Sep 11, 2003 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 03-17
September 11, 2003
Attorneys’ Presence – Required to Accomplish the
Essential Purposes of an Executive Meeting

In OIP Opinion Letter Number 03-12, the OIP advised that the Sunshine Law authorizes boards to summon non-board members to participate in a closed board meeting if necessary to further the purpose for which the executive meeting is convened.

The Hawaii County Corporation Counsel thereafter sought advice concerning whether the Sunshine Law only authorizes attorneys to be present in executive meetings convened to consult concerning a board’s “powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities” (one of the Sunshine Law’s eight authorized purposes set out at section 92-5(a), HRS).

Two circumstances were articulated: consultation concerning any purpose listed in section 92-5(a), HRS, and consultation to ensure that a board complies with 92-5(b), which requires that boards deliberate and decide in executive meetings only on matters directly related to the eight purposes listed in 92-5(a), HRS.

The OIP advised that consultation in both those circumstances is appropriate, but only so long as the attorney’s presence is essential to accomplish the purpose of the executive meeting.

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