The ACLU of Nevada, a nonpartisan organization, is concerned about open government across the board and at all levels. If you have tried to attend a meeting of a group or body that you believe is public, but have been denied access or believe that the Open Meeting Law has otherwise not been followed, the ACLU of Nevada is interested in hearing your story.
A Primer on Nevada’s Open Meetings Law
- Nevada’s Open Meetings Law was enacted to ensure that governmental deliberations are conducted openly. The legislature made clear that the intent was to ensure that public bodies open themselves up to the public. The law states:
"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that all public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."N.R.S. 241.010
- The Open Meetings Law requires that “all meetings of public bodies must be open and public, and all persons must be permitted to attend any meeting of these public bodies,” unless explicitly provided otherwise by statute. N.R.S. 241.020.
- The law applies to state and local public bodies. A “public body” is defined as: "any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the State or a local government which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue or which advises or makes recommendations to any entity which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, including, but not limited to, any board, commission, committee, subcommittee or other subsidiary thereof." N.R.S. 241.015. This means that governmental advisory groups – even if they do not themselves expend tax dollars – are subject to the Open Meeting Law.
- The state Legislature itself and the judiciary are NOT subject to the open meetings law.
- If a group or body is subject to the Open Meetings Law, it must comply with certain requirements, including the following:
- Give at least 3 days’ advance notice to the public of a meeting, with the time and place of the meeting and an agenda;
- Allow public comment, either at the beginning and the end of the meeting, or after each agenda item on which action may be taken but before such action is taken; and
- Provide copies of materials.
- The Attorney General is vested with the authority to investigate violations of the Open Meetings Law, and you can also pursue legal action in state court.
- Minutes of public meetings must be kept and are public records. Minutes must include date/time/place of the meeting; attendance record of public body members; substance of all agenda items, including each public body member’s vote on matters voted on; and the substance of comments by the general public.
- Public meetings may be audiotaped or videotaped by anyone, without obtaining permission, as long as such recording does not interfere with the meeting.
- Any member of a public body, and any witness testifying to a public body, has absolute privilege, meaning that he/she cannot be successfully sued for defamation. It is, however, illegal to knowingly misrepresent any fact when testifying to a public body.
- The deadline for a citizen to sue a public body for violating the Nevada Open Meetings Law is 120 days after the meeting. If the lawsuit seeks to have declared void an action taken by a public body while it was violating the open meetings law, the deadline is 60 days after the meeting.
This does not constitute legal advice. For advice about the Open Meetings Law, please contact an attorney. If you believe that the Open Meetings Law has been violated and wish to pursue a private action or other possible avenues, you may file a complaint with the ACLU of Nevada by completing our online complaint form and we are interested in hearing your story, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to assist you.