As noted previously, we’re endorsing a bill in Olympia that would require local government bodies to tape their executive sessions – as a way of making sure they comply with the Open Meetings Act.
My only concern with HB 3292 was whether judges would have to grant every request for a judicial review of a taped meeting. If that were the case, the bill could create a real burden for the courts.
Attorney General Rob McKenna strongly backs the bill. His office addressed my question by citing the bill report
"In an action alleging a violation of the OPMA’s provisions regarding executive sessions, the challenging party bears the burden of proof. If the challenging party supports its allegations with credible evidence, the court shall review the recording of the executive session in camera. As part of the in camera review, the court may make inquiries of the parties to fully and fairly resolve the issues before the court. The court may not divulge the contents of the recording to the plaintiffs or its counsel. If after such review the court finds that the executive session was not in compliance with the provisions of the OPMA regarding executive session, it may order disclosure of those portions of the recording that are found to be not in compliance, subject to other exemptions as may exist in law. The remainder of the recording may not be disclosed."
That settled it for me. The requestor has to provide “credible evidence.”
On a lighter note, Greg Overstreet, former open-meetings and public-disclosure expert in McKenna’s office, does a nice blog riff on local government officials who seem to think that the technology of taping an executive session is daunting.
Nothing a kid couldn’t handle, Overstreet notes.