Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 4:15 PM
Subject: RE: confidentiality of legal opinion regarding security cameras
Hi - -
I hope that this finds you happy and well.
While I might agree with the value of disclosure, you might recall that I prepared an opinion some time
ago dealing with the permissive aspects of both the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings
Laws. Stated differently, in most instances, although records "may" be withheld or executive sessions
conducted, there is no obligation to deny access to the records or enter into executive session. The
records and the information heard or acquired during executive sessions would not be inherently
confidential. The situations in which that may not be so involve those in which a statute confers
confidentiality. As you are likely aware, when an attorney offers legal advice to a client, the advice is
confidential and cannot be disclosed unless the client waives confidentiality. In the context of the
situation that you described, the client is the Board of Education, and in my view, if the Board, by
majority vote, determines to waive the privilege and disclose the attorney's legal opinion, that record
may be disclosed. I do not believe that one Board member has the right to waive the privilege,
unilaterally, absent consent by the majority.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding. If you would like to
discuss the matter,
please feel free to contact me.
I wish you and yours a happy holiday!
Robert J. Freeman
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231