Nebraska Revised Statute 84-1414
Unlawful action by public body; declared void or voidable by district court; when; duty to enforce open meeting laws; citizen's suit; procedure; violations; penalties.
(1) Any motion, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, or formal action of a public body made or taken in violation of the Open Meetings Act shall be declared void by the district court if the suit is commenced within one hundred twenty days of the meeting of the public body at which the alleged violation occurred. Any motion, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance, or formal action of a public body made or taken in substantial violation of the Open Meetings Act shall be voidable by the district court if the suit is commenced more than one hundred twenty days after but within one year of the meeting of the public body in which the alleged violation occurred. A suit to void any final action shall be commenced within one year of the action.
(2) The Attorney General and the county attorney of the county in which the public body ordinarily meets shall enforce the Open Meetings Act.
(3) Any citizen of this state may commence a suit in the district court of the county in which the public body ordinarily meets or in which the plaintiff resides for the purpose of requiring compliance with or preventing violations of the Open Meetings Act, for the purpose of declaring an action of a public body void, or for the purpose of determining the applicability of the act to discussions or decisions of the public body. It shall not be a defense that the citizen attended the meeting and failed to object at such time. The court may order payment of reasonable attorney's fees and court costs to a successful plaintiff in a suit brought under this section.
(4) Any member of a public body who knowingly violates or conspires to violate or who attends or remains at a meeting knowing that the public body is in violation of any provision of the Open Meetings Act shall be guilty of a Class IV misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class III misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.
The Legislature has granted standing to a broad scope of its citizens for the very limited purpose of challenging meetings allegedly in violation of the Open Meetings Act, so that they may help police the public policy embodied by the act. Schauer v. Grooms, 280 Neb. 426, 786 N.W.2d 909 (2010).
Any citizen of the state may commence an action to declare a public body's action void. City of Elkhorn v. City of Omaha, 272 Neb. 867, 725 N.W.2d 792 (2007).
The reading of ordinances constitutes a formal action under subsection (1) of this section. City of Elkhorn v. City of Omaha, 272 Neb. 867, 725 N.W.2d 792 (2007).
If a person present at a meeting observes a public meetings law violation in the form of an improper closed session and fails to object, that person waives his or her right to object at a later date. Wasikowski v. Nebraska Quality Jobs Bd., 264 Neb. 403, 648 N.W.2d 756 (2002).
Under the Public Meetings Act, a county lacks capacity to maintain an action to declare its official conduct "void" for noncompliance with the act. County of York v. Johnson, 230 Neb. 403, 432 N.W.2d 215 (1988).
When a petitioner under this section is successful in the district court, that court may allow attorney fees. Tracy Corp. II v. Nebraska Pub. Serv. Comm., 218 Neb. 900, 360 N.W.2d 485 (1984).
Informal discussions between the Tax Commissioner and the State Board of Equalization in which instructions were clarified, with such clarification leading to the amendment of hearing notices, did not constitute a public meeting subject to the provisions of this section. Box Butte County v. State Board of Equalization and Assessment, 206 Neb. 696, 295 N.W.2d 670 (1980).
The right to collaterally attack an order made in contravention of the Public Meeting Act must occur within a period of one year as is specifically provided by this section. Witt v. School District No. 70, 202 Neb. 63, 273 N.W.2d 669 (1979).
Statutory change, requiring "publicized notice" for board of education employment hearings, occurring between dates meeting scheduled and conducted, held not to void proceedings. Alexander v. School Dist. No. 17, 197 Neb. 251, 248 N.W.2d 335 (1976).
Voiding an entire meeting is a proper remedy for violations of the Open Meetings Act. Once a meeting has been declared void pursuant to Nebraska's public meetings law, board members are prohibited from considering any information obtained at the illegal meeting. Wolf v. Grubbs, 17 Neb. App. 292, 759 N.W.2d 499 (2009).
Actions by the board of directors were merely voidable under this section, and not void. Pursuant to subsection (3) of this section, the plaintiffs were awarded partial attorney fees because they were successful in having the court declare that the board of directors was in substantial violation of the statute, even though the plaintiffs did not get the relief requested of having the board's actions declared void. Hansmeyer v. Nebraska Pub. Power Dist., 6 Neb. App. 889, 578 N.W.2d 476 (1998).