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Recording Devices


Roman.76
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Background Info: I am the president of a student council that follows RONR.
I have been audio recording (with my phone) every council meeting for my own record and to confirm the minutes have all relevant information.
The council has a standing committee (Parent Advisory Committee) made up of three adult members of the Association to advise the council.  The committee members are appointed by the Board of Directors (our parent body).

 

At the last meeting of the Council, an advisor told me I was not allowed to record the meetings anymore because one member of the Board of Directors disagrees because it is allegedly illegal to record minors without parental consent according to state law in Texas, U.S..  However, that is not the case.  Anyone is allowed to record anyone as long as one party to the conversation consents (including the recording party).  The advisor further stated that I must either turn off my recording or leave the meeting.  I told her that she, as an advisor, does not have the authority to suspend someone from a meeting.  She then stated that the meeting had been adjourned.  I then stated that she, as an advisor, does not have the authority to adjourn a meeting.  She stated that she does have the authority to adjourn the meeting because she is the chairman of the advisory committee.  I however know that she does not have the authority to do so, as I was one of the members who helped form the committee this year.  She continued to interfere and did not allow the meeting to continue for twenty minutes!  After a lengthy discourse, the law that allows me to record was confirmed by another advisor, another advisor spoke with her over the phone about allowing me to record the meeting and it continued as if it never occurred.

I am wondering
1) if there is anything that someone thinks I could have done better and
2) if there is anything in RONR that supports my defense of following state law to allow me to record

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1.  I think you handled it very well.

2.  RONR has very little  to say about recording devices being used in meetings.  At one point on page 265 it says a rule about the use of recording devices would be in the nature of a standing rule which can be suspended with a majority vote.  At another point it says on page 471 that a recording device can be of assistance to the secretary in preparing the minutes.

Other than that, you're on your own.... and subject to whatever state laws or other superior rules might apply.

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If possible, I would avoid spending 20 minutes arguing with a non-member who attempts to "adjourn" a meeting. RONR contains procedures for dealing with a disruptive non-member; if you don't wish to use those to avoid problems down the road, just instruct the non-member to come to order or leave, and continue the meeting. '

Also, you might politely let this committee know that if its members are going to disrupt your meetings and attempt to remove your presiding officer or adjourn your meetings, you will move (after handing over the gavel, of course) to disband the committee at a board meeting. I assume you can do that since you say you formed the committee. 

Edited by Joshua Katz
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Just to be clear, I'm not giving an opinion about any legal question (i.e. recording minors), and Guest Zev's point is well-taken. My comments are solely about the situation of a non-member disrupting a meeting and attempting to adjourn it. 

As for the legal question, it's always best to ask an attorney. But, two things - first, violation of a substantive statute is not a reason, from a parliamentary perspective, to adjourn a meeting. (Nor is it ever in order for a non-member to do so.) Second, sometimes the society will have to make a snap decision without benefit of counsel - say, when a claim is made during a meeting about an applicable procedural statute. For the moment, the society will have to decide - not outsiders, not non-members. This is no different from how we conduct our lives - we make snap decisions about unusual traffic situations, what to do with the $50 you got for tutoring for an hour, etc., all without benefit of counsel. Organizations sometimes must do the same. 

But in any case, this is a substantive law. If the society wishes to adopt a motion telling its president to cut it out, it is free to do so - and could well do so out of concern about legality, even if prompted by an (allowed) comment by a non-member. But, from a parliamentary perspective, none of that extends to what is described here.

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A curiosity question for Roman.76: I am not familiar with how recordings are made using cellphones, but since meeting minutes are about what is done and not what is said, would it be too onerous, as a form of courtesy, to pause the recording whenever a minor is recognized to speak and perhaps allay some fears by the parents?

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