Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 610
Governmental Bodies and Records
Section 610.027

August 28, 2014


Violations--remedies, procedure, penalty, purposeful violations--validity of actions by governing bodies in violation--governmental bodies may seek interpretation of law, attorney general to provide.

610.027. 1. The remedies provided by this section against public governmental bodies shall be in addition to those provided by any other provision of law. Any aggrieved person, taxpayer to, or citizen of, this state, or the attorney general or prosecuting attorney, may seek judicial enforcement of the requirements of sections 610.010 to 610.026. Suits to enforce sections 610.010 to 610.026 shall be brought in the circuit court for the county in which the public governmental body has its principal place of business. Upon service of a summons, petition, complaint, counterclaim, or cross-claim in a civil action brought to enforce the provisions of sections 610.010 to 610.026, the custodian of the public record that is the subject matter of such civil action shall not transfer custody, alter, destroy, or otherwise dispose of the public record sought to be inspected and examined, notwithstanding the applicability of an exemption pursuant to section 610.021 or the assertion that the requested record is not a public record until the court directs otherwise.

2. Once a party seeking judicial enforcement of sections 610.010 to 610.026 demonstrates to the court that the body in question is subject to the requirements of sections 610.010 to 610.026 and has held a closed meeting, record or vote, the burden of persuasion shall be on the body and its members to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of sections 610.010 to 610.026.

3. Upon a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body has knowingly violated sections 610.010 to 610.026, the public governmental body or the member shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount up to one thousand dollars. If the court finds that there is a knowing violation of sections 610.010 to 610.026, the court may order the payment by such body or member of all costs and reasonable attorney fees to any party successfully establishing a violation. The court shall determine the amount of the penalty by taking into account the size of the jurisdiction, the seriousness of the offense, and whether the public governmental body or member of a public governmental body has violated sections 610.010 to 610.026 previously.

4. Upon a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body or a member of a public governmental body has purposely violated sections 610.010 to 610.026, the public governmental body or the member shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount up to five thousand dollars. If the court finds that there was a purposeful violation of sections 610.010 to 610.026, then the court shall order the payment by such body or member of all costs and reasonable attorney fees to any party successfully establishing such a violation. The court shall determine the amount of the penalty by taking into account the size of the jurisdiction, the seriousness of the offense, and whether the public governmental body or member of a public governmental body has violated sections 610.010 to 610.026 previously.

5. Upon a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that a public governmental body has violated any provision of sections 610.010 to 610.026, a court shall void any action taken in violation of sections 610.010 to 610.026, if the court finds under the facts of the particular case that the public interest in the enforcement of the policy of sections 610.010 to 610.026 outweighs the public interest in sustaining the validity of the action taken in the closed meeting, record or vote. Suit for enforcement shall be brought within one year from which the violation is ascertainable and in no event shall it be brought later than two years after the violation. This subsection shall not apply to an action taken regarding the issuance of bonds or other evidence of indebtedness of a public governmental body if a public hearing, election or public sale has been held regarding the bonds or evidence of indebtedness.

6. A public governmental body which is in doubt about the legality of closing a particular meeting, record or vote may bring suit at the expense of that public governmental body in the circuit court of the county of the public governmental body's principal place of business to ascertain the propriety of any such action, or seek a formal opinion of the attorney general or an attorney for the governmental body.

(L. 1982 H.B. 1253, A.L. 1987 S.B. 2, A.L. 1990 H.B. 1395 & 1448, A.L. 1998 H.B. 1095, A.L. 2004 S.B. 1020, et al.)


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