Government Representation & Public Body Representation
In addition to handling civil and criminal cases, I also represent local governmental organizations and public bodies. Governmental officials and entities have an extra layer of scrutiny and risk. They often face huge challenges while striving to remain under budget, and small mistakes easily become magnified in the media. They directly serve taxpayers and as such, legal situations and documents must be handled and prepared in an efficient manner. I believe that prevention is particularly important in this arena; avoiding future complications and possible lawsuits by being diligent and thorough now is invaluable. I work hard to serve as trusted counsel to local governmental bodies large and small. I can assist with compliance of the Open Meeting Act, Inspection of Public Records, and matters of human resources, draft contracts, ordinances, policies and procedures. If your entity is in need of help in any of these areas, call me today to discuss your government legal counsel needs.
Open Meeting Act Compliance
I have experience consulting with government entities on compliance with the Open Meeting Act. The Open Meeting Act requires that all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies, including cities, counties, and special purpose districts, be open to the public. Sometimes called OPMA, Open Public Meeting Act, it contains special provisions about the types of meetings, required notice to be given for meetings, conduct at meetings, and the penalties if rules are violated. Generally speaking, they must publicly advertise the meetings in advance, prepare agendas, and conduct the meetings in public. The following Local governmental bodies are required to comply:
- City and Town Councils
- County Commissioner Boards
- Special District Boards of Commissioners
- Parks Boards
- Library Boards
- Civil Service Boards
- Planning Commissions
- Certain committees that act on behalf of governing bodies
Assurance of compliance before a meeting begins is important, as any action taken during a non-compliant meeting is considered null and void. And any member of a governing body who knowingly or intentionally attends a non-compliant meeting can face personal fines. Individuals may also take action against a governing body for issues related to the Open Meeting Act, so it is doubly important for governing bodies to dot their I’s and cross their T’s when it comes to Open Meetings Act compliance.
I can ensure that you are compliant with The Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA.) This act was intended to provide the public with access to information about governmental affairs. Regulatory frameworks are always evolving and transparency is more important than ever. I understand that these are complex environments and work with governmental bodies to mitigate the risks of potential enforcement actions, and head off compliance problems whenever possible. So which records must be accessible to the public? A public record is defined as any writing that is prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local government agency, and which contains information that relates to the conduct of government, or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function. This can include other means of media, like texts, emails, videos and voicemails. And which records are private? Personal information, medical records, school records, personal tax information, and any documents or files that would violate an individual’s right to privacy are just a few of the records that are exempt from this act.
HR compliance and legal issues can get convoluted; entities need legal counsel and advice to be thorough and compliant. Just deciphering the acronyms can be difficult – COBRA, HIPPA, FLSA, ADA, FMLA – so I understand how trying to comply with these and other HR labor laws can become overwhelming. I offer a lifeline to HR departments and will help you decode and understand all of the requirements, laws and nuances of mandates. You can have peace of mind knowing that your employees have the protection of federal laws, and that you are protected from the penalties of Human Resources non-compliance.
Drafting strong contracts takes experience and confidence with the law, and a company is only as strong as its weakest contract. I have experience drafting, revising, and negotiating, and can help you identify and address various legal issues.
Writing resolutions and ordinances for governmental entities can be a challenge. Language, vocabulary and word choice can have a huge impact on the implementation and enforcement of the ordinances. There are also legal considerations when drafting an ordinance: Are there constitutional or statutory constraints regarding how you must draft the ordinance or bylaw? Consult with me. My goal is for you to achieve your legislative objectives.
Policies and Procedures
I help ensure that your policies and procedures are consistent with your goals as an organization as well as compliant with all laws and regulations. With ever-changing rules and the threat of enforcement, employers must be diligent and proactive. Legal help drafting policies and procedures is invaluable. I will help write, review and bulletproof your policies and procedures.