In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


James Collon and Paul Marshall,




against Docket #FIC 87-73


Board of Police Commissioners of the Town of Seymour,


Respondent May 13, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 21, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:


1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. At its regular meeting of February 19, 1987, the respondent went into executive session to discuss an appointment to the position of detective. The complainants were discussed during this executive session.


3. By letter of complaint dated March 16, 1987, and filed with the Commission on March 19, 1987, the complainants alleged the respondent never notified them that they would be discussed in executive session or gave them the opportunity to have the discussion on each complainant be held in public.


4. The respondent claims the complainants knew they would be discussed during this executive session and failed to exercise their right to request a public session.


5. It is found that the complainants received actual notice of the executive session's purpose through the meeting's agenda, which listed the "possible appointment of Detective."


6. It is found that the complainants were aware that they and one other police officer were the only people eligible for the position of detective on February 19, 1987.


7. It is concluded that the complainants knew they might be discussed in executive session during the meeting in question.


Docket No. FIC 87-73 Page Two


8. It is found, however, that the respondent usually notifies employees directly if they will be discussed in executive session, making clear that they have the right to request a public session.


9. It is further found that during the February 19, 1987, meeting it was uncertain whether and when the complainants were being discussed. It also was unclear whether the respondent expected the complainants to intervene in the proceedings and request a public session or wait for the respondent to ask them at the appropriate time, as the respondent usually does.


10. It is concluded that the respondent did not give the complainants meaningful notice that they were going to be discussed in executive session or the opportunity to request a public session, in violation of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:


1. The respondent shall henceforth act in strict compliance with 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


2. In complying with paragraph 1 of this order, the respondent shall give each employee meaningful notice of each executive session in which that employee will be discussed. The respondent also shall give each employee a meaningful opportunity to exercise the right to have the discussion held in a public session.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 13, 1987.


Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission