Revised open-meetings law could affect lawsuit against Howard school board

THE BALTIMORE SUN

An Ellicott City lawyer said yesterday that he will ask the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to consider the state's revised open-meetings law in determining whether he can sue the Howard County Board of Education for allegedly meeting in secret.

The latest development in Allen Dyer's four-year legal challenge comes after the General Assembly overrode Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto of an open-meetings bill on Tuesday - effective immediately. The Maryland Open Meetings Act now allows anyone to sue a public body for alleged violations of the law.

Dyer's suit prompted state lawmakers to seek clarification last spring of the open-meetings law after a Howard Circuit Court ruling in 2003 stated that only a person "adversely affected" by an alleged violation could take a public body to court - as called for in the law's previous language.

Dyer appealed to Maryland's Court of Special Appeals, which heard arguments in the case in May. A decision is pending, prompting Dyer to alert the panel to the override.

"Here's my argument," said Dyer. "If you have a legislation that is enacted during an active case - and a case on appeal is an active case - and that legislation is remedial, then it has an impact on that case."

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