MU law professor says closed-door Greitens committee is legal

11 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago Thursday, March 08 2018 Mar 8, 2018 Thursday, March 08, 2018 10:47:00 PM CST March 08, 2018 in News
By: Olivia Gerling, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY – A University of Missouri law professor says the committee investigating Governor Eric Greitens can be closed to the public. 

On Wednesday Committee Chair Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, refused to respond to reporters’ questions.

“Guys, you’re wasting your time asking questions,” he said. “You’re wasting my time asking questions. There will be a point in time in which you will know what you need to know.”

According to Professor Sandy Davidson, there is no law stating Barnes cannot choose to provide no response to the media.

The committee also voted to have a closed-door meeting.

Davidson said this is legal as long as the committee follows certain guidelines. 

“The presumption in Missouri is openness of meetings and records,” she said.

This means the “burden of showing a meeting is closed under Missouri law falls on those who want to close the meeting. 

There are two steps that have to be taken:

  1. A public vote to close the meeting
  2. The people wanting to close the meeting have to point to a law that permits closure 

KOMU 8 News contacted the committee and got an emailed response from Trevor Fox, Media Director of the Missouri House Communications. 

“The sessions of each house shall be held with open doors, except in cases which may require secrecy but not including the final vote on bills, resolutions and confirmations,” he said.

Fox cited Article III, section 20 of Missouri’s Constitution.According to Davidson, this fulfills both requirements for the committee to have a closed-door meeting.

 

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