Howard open-meetings decision from 2003 upheld

July 26, 2005|By Hanah Cho

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled against an Ellicott City attorney's four-year legal challenge to the Howard County Board of Education for alleged violations of the state open meetings act.

The court's decision - made public yesterday - upholds an August 2003 lower court ruling by now-retired Howard County Circuit Court Judge James B. Dudley, who said Allen Dyer did not have legal standing to sue members of the school board.

Dudley's decision prompted state lawmakers to clarify the open-meetings law, which had stated that only a person "adversely affected" by an alleged violation could take a public body to court. In January, the General Assembly overrode Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto and enacted legislation that guarantees the right of any citizen to sue a public body for alleged violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

In a 32-page decision, a three-judge panel found that the revised open-meetings law was not meant to be applied retroactively.

Dyer filed a lawsuit against the Howard school board in November 2000 for a myriad of alleged open-meetings violations.

- Hanah Cho

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