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Sciolino v. Ryan

440 N.Y.S.2d 795 (1981)

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Sciolino v. Ryan

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division

440 N.Y.S.2d 795 (1981)

Facts

The Rochester City Council (the council) held public meetings twice a month on Tuesdays. Twice a month on Thursdays, the eight Democratic members of the council (the council majority) (defendants) met with other members of Rochester’s city government to discuss matters that were likely to come before the council. The council majority made up a quorum of the council under local regulations. The sole Republican member of the council was not invited to these meetings, nor were the media or general public. These closed meetings were customary in Rochester. When the Rochester government was controlled by Republicans, the Republican members of the city government held similar closed meetings. In 1980 Anthony J. Sciolino (plaintiff), the sole Republican member of the council, and Gannett, Inc., a newspaper publisher (plaintiff), were denied entry to a closed meeting. Sciolino and Gannett filed lawsuits in state court alleging that the council majority violated New York’s Open Meetings Law by holding its closed meetings. The council majority argued that its closed meetings were exempt from the Open Meetings Law because the meetings were deliberations of a political caucus. The trial court held that the council majority’s closed meetings fell under the Open Meetings Law and should be open to the public. The council majority appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moule, J.)

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