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Original Author: Hodge, Elisha
Date of Material: 04/01/2022

Meetings--Planning and management
Municipal government--Public information

Notice Requirements for Special Meetings

Reviewed Date: 05/10/2022
MTAS Legal Consultant Elisha Hodge answers questions from a Tennessee city regarding the notice requirements for special meetings. Case law on this topic was cited as well as a list of locations that public notices can be posted for special meetings.

From:               Elisha D. Hodge, MTAS Legal Consultant
Date:               April 1, 2022
Re:                   Notice requirements for special meetings
Your email stated:
Are there different requirements for public notice in regards to a special meeting? The paper we have used in the past for public notice called to inform me that we are required to "inform the press" as per the Sun Shine Law. Is this correct? 
Tennessee Code Annotated Section 8-44-103 (b), which is attached, requires “adequate public notice” of be special meetings or special called meetings be provided. Per the caselaw in Tennessee, in order for the notice for a special called meeting to be adequate, it must:
(1) be posted in a location where a member of the community could become aware of such notice;
(2) reasonably describe the purpose of the meeting or the action proposed to be taken; and
(3) be posted at a time sufficiently in advance of the actual meeting in order to give citizens both an opportunity to become aware of and to attend the meeting.
Englewood Citizens for Alternate B v. Town of Englewood, No. 03A01-9803-CH-00098, 1999 WL 419710 at *2-4 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 24, 1999). I have attached the Town of Englewood opinion for your review. The courts have not set out this specific test for the notice for regularly scheduled meetings. Instead, for regularly scheduled meetings, the courts have determined that adequate public notice for those meetings means, “adequate public notice under the circumstances, or such notice based on the totality of the circumstances as would fairly inform the public.” Memphis Pub. Co. v. City of Memphis, 513 S.W. 2d 511, 513 (Tenn. 1974).
Public notice for special called meetings can be posted in a number of public places per the caselaw in Tennessee, and while that might include posting notice in a newspaper or sending a separate notice to the press, that is not a requirement in the statute or caselaw. I reviewed the Town’s charter and municipal code and did not find any specific requirement that the press receive a separate notice for special called meetings or that notice for a special called meeting be included in a newspaper. However, there may be an ordinance or resolution passed to which I do not have access, so you will want to check for to determine if the BOMA at some point decided that notice for special called meetings must be included in a local newspaper or that a separate notice for special called meetings must be sent to the press.
Please let me know if you have other questions. Additionally, I recommend that you confer with the Town attorney, if one has been hired, and the Office of Open Records Counsel.

Reference Document(s)
file 8-44-103 Notice.pdf