FAC leads amicus signed by 90+ publications in Brown Act case begun by the late Rich McKee

A FAC led amicus brief joined by more than 90 newspapers and other publications was filed Thursday in an appeal of a Brown Act law suit involving  the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.  The suit challenges the supervisors’ practice of holding lunchtime meetings–regularly and often–that were nonpublic and held without notification to the public or media.

The plaintiffs–the late Rich McKee, CNPA and the Visalia Times-Delta–argued that the lunches, which were charged to the county government and attended by a county lawyer, were “meetings” regulated by the Brown Act, which generally requires that meetings be publicly held and conducted according to an agenda that is made public in advance. The Superior Court disagreed and dismissed the suit. The appeal is from that dismissal.

It is highly unusual for so many amici curiae–literally, “friends of the court”– to sign an amicus brief. The FAC brief was signed by newspapers ranging from the state’s biggest dailies (LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee) to its smallest weekly newspapers, as well as news wires, out-of-state media associations and national media/First Amendment organizations.

Amici were attracted by concern about enforcing the Brown Act  as well as the opportunity to honor open-government advocate Rich McKee, who passed away last week. “The First Amendment Coalition is proud to be lead amicus on this excellent brief authored by lawyers Duffy Carolan and Fred Glasser at the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm,” FAC Executive Director Peter Scheer said Thursday. “The participation of so many amici is a wonderful way to honor the memory of Rich McKee.”

Rich McKee was a co-founder of CalAware (together with Terry Francke) in 2004 and a former Board President of FAC. Starting in the early 1990s, McKee filed many Brown Act and Public Records Act lawsuits against local governments, particularly in Southern California.

FAC’s amicus brief can be viewed here.