Was the County in Violation of The Sunshine Law?
Article by W. Clay Crook-
Calls to the staff and office of The Lexington Progress have raised some concerns of the validity of a recent meeting of the Henderson County Commission on Monday night, January 8. A search of the last four editions of the newspaper failed to find public notice had been published. Tennessee Code Annotated 8-44-101 through 108 are the open meetings and public notice act, popularly known as The Sunshine Law. Former owner and editor, William “Jew” Franklin, was instrumental in the passing of this law in 1974, and has continued through the years to grow in significance.
The Lexington Progress has been in consultation with the legal department of the Tennessee Press Association. Some key provisions of the act can invalidate any action taken at a meeting that is in violation of the law, i.e. “shall be void and of no effect.” This includes the simplest of actions, from approving minutes of the previous meeting, approval of notaries, and other resolutions.
A call to the office of County Mayor Dan Hughes indicated from his staff the lack of notice was inadvertent. However, there were some concerns expressed by members of the county commission, who after seeing the reporter from The Lexington Progress was not present, began to question the legality of the proceedings. A lawsuit asking the county be held in legal violation of the law can be filed by any citizen who resides in Henderson County, which can result in an injunction and contempt of court should a violation reoccur.
Stay with The Lexington Progress for updates as they become available.