Outside Legal Counsel PLC

Lawsuit: Roscommon County Commissioners Violated the Open Meetings Act

For Immediate Release | Apr 15, 2022

Outside Legal Counsel has filed a lawsuit against three members of the Roscommon County Board of Commissioners for their violations of the Open Meetings Act.

The lawsuit, filed in the Roscommon County Circuit Court, alleges that three county board members, Chairman Robert Schneider, Commissioner David Russo, and Commissioner Timothy Muckenthaler, undertook a vote to go into closed session to have non-public discussions regarding the recent OLC victory in the Citizens for Higgins Lake Legal Level, Inc v Roscommon County case.

However, to go into closed session, at least two-thirds of the five-member board--or four total members--must affirmatively vote to allow the full Board to go into closed session. Failing to do so violates the OMA. Intentionally failing to comply with the OMA as a public official is both a criminal and civil violation of the law.

Closed session is when the public is totally excluded from observing deliberations and decisions of public bodies like county boards. Discussion points that occur in closed session are never made public or are subject to public scrutiny.

"Our Open Meetings Act law sets the baseline requirements public bodies and public officials are mandated to follow," states OLC attorney Philip L. Ellison. "Those who are charge with writing our laws must obey the minimum requirements of openness and transparency."

No date has been set for the first hearing. The case has been assigned to Judge Robert Bennett sitting in Roscommon County.