Attorney General's Opinion 1981-82 #430



April 16, 1982

The Honorable Frederick C. Boucher
Member, Senate of Virginia

81-82 430

This is in reply to your letter of March 30, 1982, which reads in part as follows:

"Your opinion is hereby requested concerning the validity under Code of Virginia §2.1-344(c) of a resolution adopted by the governing body of a county when six of the seven members of the governing body meet without notice to the public in a special executive session, in a place other than its regular meeting place, pursuant to written waiver of notice signed by all seven members."

Section 2.1-344(c) of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended, is part of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, §§2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1 (the "Act"). The Act requires that all meetings of public bodies be open meetings, unless otherwise specifically provided by law. See, also, §15.1-539 requiring the board of supervisors to sit with open doors. You did not state whether the meeting was conducted in open session, but your question implies that the meeting was conducted as a closed executive meeting. If, in fact, the meeting was open, §2.1-344(c) has no application If it is an "executive" meeting as defined in §2.1-341 (c),1 the procedural requirements hereinafter discussed would apply.

The procedural requirements for conducting executive meetings are set forth in §§2.1-344(b) and 2.1-344(c). Before a governmental body subject to the Act may go into closed, executive session, an affirmative vote must have been recorded in open meeting on a motion to go into executive session. Such motion must state specifically the purpose or purposes set forth in §§2.1-344(a)(1) through 2.1-344(a)(9) which are to be the subject of such meeting and a statement must be included in the minutes of such meeting which shall make reference to the applicable exemption. Subsection (c) of 2.1-344 provides that "[n]o resolution.. adopted, passed or agreed to in an executive or closed meeting shall become effective unless such public body, following such meeting, reconvenes in open meeting and takes a vote of the membership on such resolution.. which shall have its substance reasonably identified in the open meeting."

Assuming, arguendo, that an "executive" meeting was conducted, that session was not violative of 2.1-344(c) if the board complied with the procedural requirements of 2.1-344(b) and 2.1-344(c). Your letter did not indicate whether there was such a compliance.

The fact that no announcement of the time and location of the meeting was provided does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Act. The Act requires notice only to those individuals who request notice in writing. See §2.1-341; Report of the Attorney General (1979-1980) at 380. The Act must be read with other provisions of law relating to meetings of the board of supervisors. See §15.1-536, et seq. Section §15.1-537 provides for special meetings, and §15.1-538 specifies the manner in which such meetings may be called. Notice is mandatory to the members of the governmental body and the county's attorney, but that notice may be waived. See Report of the Attorney General (1950-1951) at 35. You indicate that the notice was waived in the instant case; hence, the special meeting was not violative of basic law governing special meetings.



1 Section 2.1-341(c) reads as follows: `Executive meeting ' or `closed meeting means a meeting from which the public is excluded.