S Memo 12-16

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 12-16
June 29, 2012
Executive Session on Adding Item to Agenda

Requester asked for an investigation into whether the Kauai County Council (Council) violated the Sunshine Law by holding an executive session to discuss a motion to add an item to the agenda for its meeting held on June 3, 2009 (the Meeting).

OIP found that in appropriate circumstances, a board may go into an unanticipated executive session with its attorney to discuss its ability to add an item to its agenda, so long as the board does not discuss the underlying item proposed to be added. See HRS § 92-5(a)(4) (Supp. 2011). However, given the length of the executive session and the fact that the County Attorney publicly announced his advice on whether the proposed item could be added to the agenda by vote, OIP infers that the discussion was not limited to advice on that legal question. Because the Council failed to rebut that inference by explaining what discussion occurred during the executive session and why it properly fell within an executive session purpose, and failed to provide any evidence or arguments to meet its burden to justify the executive session, OIP could not find that the executive session was allowed under the Sunshine Law.