The Vermont Statutes Online
COMMON LAW; GENERAL RIGHTS
314. Penalty and enforcement
(a) A person who
is a member of a public body and who knowingly and intentionally violates the
provisions of this subchapter, a person who knowingly and intentionally
violates the provisions of this subchapter on behalf or at the behest of a
public body, or a person who knowingly and intentionally participates in the
wrongful exclusion of any person or persons from any meeting for which
provision is herein made, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined
not more than $500.00.
(b)(1) Prior to
instituting an action under subsection (c) of this section, the Attorney
General or any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this
subchapter shall provide the public body written notice that alleges a specific
violation of this subchapter and requests a specific cure of such violation.
The public body will not be liable for attorney's fees and litigation costs
under subsection (d) of this section if it cures in fact a violation of this
subchapter in accordance with the requirements of this subsection.
(2) Upon receipt
of the written notice of alleged violation, the public body shall respond
publicly to the alleged violation within seven business days by:
acknowledging the violation of this subchapter and stating an intent to cure
the violation within 14 calendar days; or
(B) stating that
the public body has determined that no violation has occurred and that no cure
(3) Failure of a
public body to respond to a written notice of alleged violation within seven
business days shall be treated as a denial of the violation for purposes of
enforcement of the requirements of this subchapter.
(4) Within 14
calendar days after a public body acknowledges a violation under subdivision
(2)(A) of this subsection, the public body shall cure the violation at an open
ratifying, or declaring as void, any action taken at or resulting from a
meeting in violation of this subchapter; and
specific measures that actually prevent future violations.
(c) Following an
acknowledgment or denial of a violation and, if applicable, following
expiration of the 14-calendar-day cure period for public bodies acknowledging a
violation, the Attorney General or any person aggrieved by a violation of the
provisions of this subchapter may bring an action in the Civil Division of the
Superior Court in the county in which the violation has taken place for
appropriate injunctive relief or for a declaratory judgment. An action may be
brought under this section no later than one year after the meeting at which
the alleged violation occurred or to which the alleged violation relates.
Except as to cases the Court considers of greater importance, proceedings
before the Civil Division of the Superior Court, as authorized by this section
and appeals therefrom, take precedence on the docket over all cases and shall
be assigned for hearing and trial or for argument at the earliest practicable
date and expedited in every way.
(d) The Court
shall assess against a public body found to have violated the requirements of
this subchapter reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs
reasonably incurred in any case under this subchapter in which the complainant
has substantially prevailed, unless the Court finds that:
public body had a reasonable basis in fact and law for its position; and
(B) the public
body acted in good faith. In determining whether a public body acted in good
faith, the Court shall consider, among other factors, whether the public body
responded to a notice of an alleged violation of this subchapter in a timely
manner under subsection (b) of this section; or
(2) the public
body cured the violation in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.
(Amended 1979, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. April 24, 1980; 1987, No. 256
(Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2013, No. 143 (Adj. Sess.), § 4.)