Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 15, 2013

County to meet in private session with attorney Monday

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

— The Cumberland County Commission will hold a closed session meeting with its attorney immediately following the county commission's monthly meeting Monday, July 15.

A closed session means no members of the public, including the press, are invited to attend the meeting.

The closed session will be held at the request of county commissioners in order for county attorney Randal Boston to discuss possible litigation on legal matters concerning the county. Acting as the county's attorney, Boston can meet with the county commission in a closed session without violating the state's Sunshine Law, providing he is advising his client (Cumberland County) on legal matters.

The Tennessee Sunshine Law TCA 8-44-102 states that all meetings of governing bodies be open to the public and that discussion or deliberations of its members be open to the public.

No decisions can legally be made by the county during the closed session.

Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association previously said, "Case law (not statute) in Tennessee allows the attorney for a governing body to meet in private to get and give information about pending litigation or perhaps some anticipated legal controversy. That is to protect the attorney-client privilege. That privilege is violated if anybody else is in that meeting that is not covered under the privilege ..."

Anyone else who is not an elected member of the Cumberland County Commission should not attend the meeting either, or the attorney-client privilege is violated, according to Gibson.

During last Tuesday's Emergency Services Committee meeting, 5th District Commissioner Joe Koester said he felt the county should have a closed session with the attorney in order to seek legal advice.

Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, said, "Attorney Boston is very careful about meeting in closed session and follows the letter of the law."

Commissioners were discussing options for locating antennas for the county's emergency communications radio systems.

The committee met in a closed session with the attorney back in March of this year as well.

The public is invited to attend the Cumberland County Commission's regular monthly meeting for July, which begins at 6 p.m. in the large courtroom of the Cumberland County Courthouse.

The private, closed session, will immediately follow the county commission meeting.