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Published September 11, 2009, 07:36 AM

Open meetings challenge opposed by ND AG dismissed

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal appeals court has dismissed a Texas case that held potential consequences for open meetings laws in North Dakota and other states.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal appeals court has dismissed a Texas case that held potential consequences for open meetings laws in North Dakota and other states.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and other attorneys general had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse an earlier ruling in the lawsuit. Stenehjem said the ruling would have given elected officials a constitutional right to meet in secret.

Instead of reversing the ruling, the appeals court on Thursday ordered the case dismissed.

In dismissing it, the full 17-judge panel said a former city council member in Alpine, Texas could no longer pursue the case because he left the council in May.

Avinash Rangra and former city councilwoman Anna Monclova had argued that the criminal penalties in Texas' open meetings law violated their free speech rights. The earlier ruling by a three-judge panel last April said they could be right.

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