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Arkansas Supreme Court Says Fort Smith Board Emails Did Not Violate FOIA

FORT SMITH (TB&P) — The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled Fort Smith city directors did not violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when they u...

FORT SMITH (TB&P) — The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled Fort Smith city directors did not violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when they used emails to discuss an issue. Thursday’s (June 20) court opinion reverses a lower court ruling.

Arkansas Supreme Court Says Fort Smith Board Emails Did Not Violate FOIA

On Jan. 5, 2018, Sebastian County Circuit Judge J. Michael Fitzhugh said the series of emails written in May and August of 2017 between board members and City Administrator Carl Geffken were in violation of FOIA. Judge Fitzhugh ruled in favor of Wade, noting that “Under the facts of this case the Court concludes that informal meetings subject to the FOIA were held by way of emails. The purpose of which was to either opine or survey the members as to the demise of the CSC and/or acceptance/rejection of a settlement.”

“These are clearly matters that should have occurred in a public setting,” Fitzhugh wrote, adding that the city was “permanently enjoined from conducting public business in this matter without notice.”

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