Open Meetings and Public Comment

Register Now for Classes with Local Attorneys

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is continuing its series on state open meeting laws with new classes on public commentary.

The classes will feature a local attorney who will explain their respective state law on public comments during open meetings. Each class will address common challenges to the public’s right to speak at open meetings and will help clarify when and how government officials can restrict the speech of those in attendance.

This latest round of classes will be provided by NEFAC with support from the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, SPJ New England, the Rhode Island Foundation and the New England Society of News Editors.

Previous lessons can be viewed on NEFAC’s YouTube channel or through its new multimedia FOI GuideRegistration is free and open to all members of the public.

The latest in a series of lessons — taught by leading open government experts, attorneys and journalists — on the federal Freedom of Information Act and state FOI laws.

Each class will be moderated by Emily Sweeney, a journalist at The Boston Globe and author of the books “Boston Organized Crime” and “Gangland Boston.” Sweeney currently writes the Blotter Tales column which appears in the Globe every Sunday. In addition to serving on the NEFAC Board of Directors, she’s also president of the New England Society of News Editors.

MAINE | Feb. 6 | 5 p.m.

Stephen E. F. Langsdorf is chairman of Preti Flaherty’s Municipal Law and Finance Group and a partner in the Employment Law and Litigation practice groups. During his more than 30 years at Preti, he evolved from being an accomplished trial and appellate lawyer to one of the preeminent municipal attorneys in Maine

Sigmund Schutz is a partner at Preti Flaherty in Portland. He has been newsroom counsel to Maine’s largest news organization for more than 20 years. Schutz frequently defends broadcast and print media. In his media law practice, he represents the news media in First Amendment matters, defamation and privacy and FOI matters.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Maine Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

NEW HAMPSHIRE | Feb. 10 | 5 p.m.

Gregory V. Sullivan is president of NEFAC and serves as general counsel for the Union Leader Corporation. He teaches First Amendment Media Law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston and at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to New Hampshire Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

VERMONT | Feb. 13 | 5 p.m.

Lia Ernst is legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, where she litigates civil liberties, civil rights and open government cases. Ernst also advocates before state and municipal governmental bodies and serves on the New England First Amendment Coalition’s Board of Directors.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Vermont Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

CONNECTICUT | March 3 | 5 p.m.

William S. Fish, Jr. is a partner at Hinckley Allen. His practice spans across a broad range of legal disciplines including business services, commercial litigation and the First Amendment. He has tried numerous complex matters in state and federal court and has represented the media for 40 years.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Connecticut Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

RHODE ISLAND | March 22 | 6 p.m.

Raymond A. Marcaccio is the co-founder of Oliverio & Marcaccio LLP. He represents local news media organizations and brings claims for access to public records and court and government proceedings. Marcaccio is also an instructor at NEFAC’s annual investigative journalism institute.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Rhode Island Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

MASSACHUSETTS | March 24 | 5 p.m.

Jon Albano is a partner at Morgan Lewis and a board member of the New England First Amendment Coalition. His practice is focused on commercial, media, and appellate litigation, as well as representing newspapers, entertainment and news broadcasters, and publishers.

Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Massachusetts Open Meeting Law and (2) How Newsrooms Respond to Executive Session Secrecy

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Champa Charitable Foundation, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.