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Public hearings


Guest Althea Wasll
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Here is what RONR says about a public session:

A deliberative assembly or committee is normally entitled to determine whether nonmembers may attend or be excluded from its meetings (even when not in executive session). Many public and semipublic bodies, however, are governed by sunshine laws—that is, their meetings must be open to the public. Normally, such laws have no application to private, nongovernmental bodies. 
In meetings of many public bodies, such as school boards, the public may attend. Similarly, in some private organizations such as church councils, parishioners may be permitted to attend. These attendees are not members of the meeting body and ordinarily have no right to participate. Some bodies, especially public ones, may invite nonmembers to express their views, but this is done under the control of the presiding officer subject to any relevant rules adopted by the body and subject to appeal by a member. Often, by rule or practice, time limits are placed on speakers and relevance is closely monitored.   RONR 
(11th ed.), pp. 96-97

Check with you council's attorney for any rules which may supersede anything said in RONR.

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8 minutes ago, Guest Althea Wasll said:

What is the role of the Council during a public hearing?  Are they able to make any comments?

 

Are you referring to a public body such as a city council?  If so, their rules and procedures are likely spelled out in state law, the city charter, and/or the council's own rules... all of which supersede RONR.  According to the rules in RONR, if it is a meeting of a "council", ONLY the members of the council have a right to speak and make comments unless the assembly itself decides by motion or rule to let others speak.

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There are few things quite so irritating, in my view, as a meeting at which the attorney holds forth at length on topic after topic, and members are often encouraged to believe that his word is binding.

The attorney, if not a member of the board, should not be speaking at all, except by a majority vote to allow it, or if during debate a 2/3 vote.  

If it is necessary to consult the attorney for legal advice, I believe it would be best to do so out of earshot of the public, much as a parliamentarian would should do for parliamentary advice. 

In my experience, consulting a lawyer for parliamentary advice and consulting a parliamentarian for legal advice are similarly ill-advised practices.

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3 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

There are few things quite so irritating, in my view, as a meeting at which the attorney holds forth at length on topic after topic, and members are often encouraged to believe that his word is binding.

The attorney, if not a member of the board, should not be speaking at all, except by a majority vote to allow it, or if during debate a 2/3 vote.  

If it is necessary to consult the attorney for legal advice, I believe it would be best to do so out of earshot of the public, much as a parliamentarian would should do for parliamentary advice. 

In my experience, consulting a lawyer for parliamentary advice and consulting a parliamentarian for legal advice are similarly ill-advised practices.

The spelling the OP used was “council,” not “counsel,” so I believe the question is about what the role of the council’s members should be during the hearing, not what the role of their attorney should be.

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2 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

The spelling the OP used was “council,” not “counsel,” so I believe the question is about what the role of the council’s members should be during the hearing, not what the role of their attorney should be.

I was counting on a misspelling, but on re-reading you could well be right.  Oh, well, there's now an answer for both.

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