The union has long fought with the Local Government Center over about $100 million of public money that was paid for health and liability insurance, which it and the state government want returned to the public.
The court ruled it was legal for the center to remove discussion between board members and their attorney from minutes of a public meeting, arguing attorney client privilege, even though that discussion would have been audible to any member of the public who attended.
The LGC released the minutes but with portions redacted, or blacked out, claiming attorney client privilege, according to the court.
if no one hears the conversation.'"
Like the tree that makes no sound when it falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, a lawyer who discusses confidential information in a public meeting actually said nothing if no private citizen was in the audience to hear it.
client privilege trumps public access
"Had members of the public been present, the conversation could have progressed differently," the court wrote in its unanimous opinion.
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"Because the ultimate touchstone is the speaker's reasonable expectation that the communications were made in confidence, the fact that the meetings were technically open to the public under RSA 91 A:2, I, Omega Seamaster Diver
ruling, the court said in a unanimous opinion, is that the meeting would have been different if somebody was in the audience, listening.
is of no import," the decision reads.
"Because no third persons were present at the meeting, (the Local Government Center) was not required to taken any further precautions such as entering into Omega Seamaster Blue Strap executive session to ensure the communications were private."
"As the superior court aptly observed, 'The fact that the meeting occurs in a public place does not destroy the privilege, Omega Seamaster Black Ceramic
That's roughly the gist of a ruling from the state Supreme Court released Friday in the long running dispute between the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Local Government Center.
The case came up because the firefighters union, which has had a long dispute with the Local Government Center over its handling of insurance premiums, wanted complete minutes of 14 meetings from 2000 09.
The union asked to see the redacted portions, but a Superior Court judge ruled against it. The union appealed that case to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the lower court ruling.
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