January 22, 2013
FROM: Camille S. Jobin-Davis, Assistant Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
This is in response to your request for an advisory opinion regarding application of the Open Meetings Law to certain gatherings of the Village of Manorhaven Board of Trustees. Specifically, you have been informed by the Mayor that videotaping of meetings of the Board is not permitted, and that persons with video cameras are not welcome at Village Board meetings. You indicated that on two occasions a certain person was ejected from Village Board meetings when he attempted to video tape the proceedings.
In this regard, this will confirm that as of April, 2011, the Open Meetings Law has required all public bodies to permit video recording of public portions of its meetings. Codifying case law requiring essentially the same abilities, §103(d) sets forth as follows:
“1. Any meeting of a public body that is open to the public shall be open to being photographed, broadcast, webcast, or otherwise recorded and/or transmitted by audio or video means. As used herein the term “broadcast” shall also include the transmission of signals by cable.
2. A public body may adopt rules, consistent with recommendations from the committee on open government, reasonably governing the location of equipment and personnel used to photograph, broadcast, webcast, or otherwise record a meeting so as to conduct its proceedings in an orderly manner. Such rules shall be conspicuously posted during meetings and written copies shall be provided upon request to those in attendance.”
The Legislature amended Open Meetings Law §103 to codify judicial decisions concerning photographing and recording open meetings of public bodies. In short, the courts determined that anyone may record open meetings, so long as use of a recording device is not disruptive or obtrusive. Public bodies are now required by law to allow meetings to be photographed, broadcast, webcast or otherwise recorded and/or transmitted by audio or video means. The new provision also states that public bodies may adopt reasonable rules governing the use of cameras and recording devices during open meetings, in which case such rules must be conspicuously posted and provided to those in attendance upon request.
This will also confirm that enforcement of the Open Meetings Law involves the initiation of a judicial proceeding in Supreme Court under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
Copy to Giovanna Giunta, Mayor