GOVERNMENT CODE, 54592.2 (b)

54952.2 (b) Except as authorized pursuant to Section 54953, any use of direct communication, personal intermediaries, or technological devices that is employed by a majority of the members of the legislative body to develop a collective concurrence as to action to be taken on an item by the members of the legislative body is prohibited.


As e-mail and other forms of electronic communications are covered under the Public Records Act, so too may they be regulated by the Brown Act. The ease with which one can fire off e-mail message may make it particularly a problematic trap for unwary public officials. A Board member may believe that a message to a colleague about a matter that will be before the board is entirely innocent and the recipient may well agree. Indeed, the recipient might well forward it yet to a third board member resulting in a serial meeting prohibited by the Brown Act. All may be acting without any intention of violating the Brown Act, and yet they may have done so. To make these matters worse, now there is an electronic record of the transgression. If a majority of the members of a legislative body either receive or reply to an e-mail, a serial meeting may result since the transmission of the members ideas could result in a majority of the body reaching a collective concurrence. This can easily occur when a member selects "reply to all" on a message sent from staff where that message contains deliberation, decision or other content leading to a collection on the issue.


Meyers/ Nave, April 17, 2004 , page 8