Judge orders Ohio township to pay in open-meetings case

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — A judge who earlier found that a southwest Ohio township government violated open-meetings law with informal gatherings has ordered it to pay nearly $200,000 in attorney fees and costs.

The 2011 lawsuit said Clearcreek Township trustees regularly met in the township administrator’s office before public meetings from 2009 to 2011 to work out their positions on issues.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Judge James Flannery of Warren County Common Pleas Court has ordered the township to pay the attorney fees on behalf of resident Jack Chrisman, who sued the trustees.

Emily Grannis, a lawyer with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said it’s a large award for that kind of litigation.

“It certainly is encouraging,” Grannis said. “It makes it worthwhile for lawyers to take this kind of work.”

Open-government advocates around the state had watched the case closely because of concerns that the township wasn’t alone in circumventing state law.

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