Open and Public Meetings, Participatory Democracy - Rick Curtis is a member of FOCUS, an organization comprised of divorced parents who are interested in policies that affect Utah’s child support and custody laws. In an effort to be active participants in the policy-making process, Curtis and other FOCUS members regularly attend the monthly public meetings of the Utah State Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee. In the past, he and other FOCUS members have videotaped these meetings so that those who were unable to attend have an accurate account of the proceedings, and to allow those who were there to more meaningfully participate in future meetings by developing appropriate responses to the committee’s proposals.
However, at the May, June, and July 2002 meetings, the committee refused to allow Curtis to videotape the proceedings, and indicated that it will not allow videotaping in the future without a court order.
On July 26, 2002, we filed a complaint alleging that in prohibiting videotaping, the committee was in violation not only of our state’s open and public meetings law, but also of the very spirit of our constitutional democracy, which relies upon the participation of an informed citizenry. That day we also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order so that Curtis could videotape the August 5, 2002 meeting, which was subsequently cancelled. On July 30, 2002, the court granted our temporary restraining order, and on September 3, 2002, we submitted our reply memo in support of plaintiffs’ motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. On September 5, 2002, we asked the court to grant a permanent injunction so that Curtis and other members of the public could videotape the committee’s monthly meetings. On February 20, 2003, Judge Leslie Lewis upheld open government and allowed videotaping of the Utah State Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee meetings.