N.C. Publisher Charged With Trespass For Refusing To Leave Closed Meeting

Tom Boney, publisher of the Alamance News, a weekly newspaper in Graham, N.C., was arrested and charged with trespass after refusing to leave the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport Authority's monthly meeting.  According to the Burlington Times-News, Boney refused to leave the meeting after the airport authority voted to hold a private meeting to discuss a possible economic development project at the airport. 

Under North Carolina's Meetings of Public Bodies Act, all official meetings of public bodies are presumed to be open to the public.  The law permits closure only under nine enumerated circumstances.  It is unclear whether the airport authority met any of these conditions when it closed the meeting.  Even the sheriff who arrested Boney commented that he respects him for sticking to his convictions. "He's got a valid point about having access to public meetings," the sheriff told the Burlington Times-News.

Boney, who has long campaigned for open government meetings, is scheduled to appear in court on June 25 to address the misdemeanor trespassing charge.

UPDATE: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported that the district attorney's office dismissed the charge on July 20, 2007, saying the incident between Boney and the authority was a "civil matter."


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