Oklahoma – (ECWd) –
When crimes are committed people should be held accountable. For years we have pushed for such accountability in regards to Open Meetings Act violations in this state.
In Clark County, Illinois, John Kraft initiated a citizen’s arrest of the entire park board and to date the Illinois State Police have done zero investigation on that matter. (NBC 5 coverage here)
Now we see people treating the law the way it should be, sadly not here in Illinois.
Three Okemah City Council members have now found themselves at the center of criminal charges after allegedly violating the state’s Open Meeting Act.
Arrest warrants were issued on Monday, Nov. 30, for Lloyd L. Raimer, Wayne J. Bacon and Bobby G. Massey. All present city council members. According to court papers filed by the district attorney’s office, the Open Meetings Act violation occurred following a June 22, 2015 council meeting. Michael Dean, an agent with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, began investigating the allegations after the OSBI was requested by Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook. (Full story here)
“In prosecuting a violation of the Open Meeting Act, the district attorney need only prove a willful failure to comply. Criminal intent need not be proved because the conduct is illegal by virtue of the statute, the Court of Criminal Appeals has said.” (Hillary v. State, 1981 OK CR 78, ¶ 5)
“In other words, a crime exists because the statute deemed the conduct to be wrong.”
“The Act also does not require prosecutors to prove injury “to establish a prima facie case of a violation,” the court said. (link to FOI Oklahoma.Org coverage)”
“The Oklahoma Supreme Court has said that under the Open Meeting Act, “Willfulness does not require a showing of bad faith, malice, or wantonness, but rather, encompasses conscious, purposeful violations of the law or blatant or deliberate disregard of the law by those who know, or should know the requirements of the Act.” (Supreme Court case)
It’s encouraging to see the law being enforced, but sad we can’t get any State’s Attorney in this state to do the same when it comes to Open Meetings Act violations.