Asya Calixto Answers NENPA’s Media Law Hotline “Question of the Week” on Public Records

Question: I am reporting on a Massachusetts town’s search for a candidate to fill the position of Town Counsel. The town appointed a committee to screen candidates for the position, and the committee announced that it will meet in a closed session to review and discuss the applications. Can they do this, or must their meeting be open to the public?

Answer: Massachusetts law provides that the meeting of a public body to discuss candidates for a job position is, like all meetings of public bodies, presumptively open to the public. If a public body tasks a subcommittee with screening the candidates, however, the law permits the subcommittee, under certain limited circumstances, to meet in executive session. (If a public body chooses to review applications itself, without appointing a subcommittee, it must do so in a public session.) A subcommittee must be comprised of less than a quorum of the public body, and it may only meet in private if the following two conditions are met: (1) the subcommittee’s meeting is a “preliminary screening” and (2) meeting in an open session would have a detrimental effect on obtaining qualified applicants for the position.

To read Asya’s complete answer, click here.

If you have questions about public records, please contact Asya Calixto, a lawyer in Prince Lobel’s Media and First Amendment Law Practice Group and the author of this alert, or Rob Bertsche, chair of Prince Lobel’s Media and First Amendment Law Practice Group. You can reach Asya at 617 456 8110 or, and Rob at 617 456 8018 or

The Media Law Hotline is a service offered free of charge to NENPA members in good standing, and is staffed by the media and intellectual property lawyers at Prince Lobel Tye LLP. You can reach the NENPA Hotline at 1-888-428-7490 or by email at

Asya Calixto
Asya Calixto





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