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Open Meeting Law In Arizona

The enactment of Arizona's open meeting law "was an effort to ensure that the public could attend and monitor the meetings of all public bodies." Fisher v. Maricopa County Stadium Dist., 185 Ariz. 116, 122-23, 912 P.2d 1345, 1351-52 (App. 1995) (citing A.R.S. §§ 38-431 to 431.09 (1996)).

Under section 38- 431.01(A), "all meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings."

Although the intent of the open meeting act is that official deliberations and proceedings of public governing bodies be conducted openly, "the public's right to know and to participate in the decision-making process frequently comes into sharp conflict with the need for confidentiality in certain areas." Hokanson v. High Sch. Dist. No. Eight of Pima County, 121 Ariz. 264, 267, 589 P.2d 907, 910 (App. 1978).

The legislature accordingly has crafted narrow exceptions to the open meeting requirements.

The circumstances under which a public body may meet in an executive session appear in relevant part in section 38-431.03(A):

A. A public body may hold an executive session but only for the following purposes:

3. Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body.

4. Discussion or consultation with the attorneys of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its attorneys regarding the public body's position in pending or contemplated litigation.

However, "no executive session may be held for the purpose of taking any legal action involving a final vote or decision." A.R.S. § 38-431.03(D).

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