California's Brown Act: Clearing the Smoke-Filled Room

Anne Richardson-Oakes, Julian Killingley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The Ralph M. Brown Act has for nearly seventy years assured Californians? right to require that certain meetings of legislative bodies be held openly. This Article considers the extent to which that law has become internalized in government and normalized in Californians' expectations of government conduct. We discuss possible mechanisms by which compliance with the Act's requirements is secured, including criminal sanctions, civil litigation, grand jury investigations and self-policing. We examine in detail the identities of those bringing civil claims or invoking grand jury investigations, the subject areas implicated, the nature of the alleged violations of the Act and the eventual outcomes. After evaluating the extent to which each contributes to state compliance, we conclude that government's own internal public law advisors have likely contributed most to ensuring transparency in decision making.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCalifornia Western Law Review
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 1 May 2022


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