Court shields volunteers from open meetings fines

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says volunteers who serve on governmental bodies cannot be held personally liable for unintentional violations of the Iowa Open Meetings Act.

The court ruled Friday that volunteers are immune from liability unless they commit “intentional misconduct or a knowing violation” of the act.

The court declined the city of Postville’s request to fine members of a regional planning commission in northeastern Iowa who violated the open meetings law by holding a secret vote in 2010. The law says violators can face fines of up to $500.

But since the violations by the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission were self-policed and corrected, Justice David Wiggins says members demonstrated “a desire to comply with the requirements” of the law and not sidestep it. Therefore, he says they’re immune.

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