19.85 19.85 Exemptions.
19.85(1)(1)Any meeting of a governmental body, upon motion duly made and carried, may be convened in closed session under one or more of the exemptions provided in this section. The motion shall be carried by a majority vote in such manner that the vote of each member is ascertained and recorded in the minutes. No motion to convene in closed session may be adopted unless the chief presiding officer announces to those present at the meeting at which such motion is made, the nature of the business to be considered at such closed session, and the specific exemption or exemptions under this subsection by which such closed session is claimed to be authorized. Such announcement shall become part of the record of the meeting. No business may be taken up at any closed session except that which relates to matters contained in the chief presiding officer's announcement of the closed session. A closed session may be held for any of the following purposes:
19.85(1)(a) (a) Deliberating concerning a case which was the subject of any judicial or quasi-judicial trial or hearing before that governmental body.
19.85(1)(b) (b) Considering dismissal, demotion, licensing or discipline of any public employee or person licensed by a board or commission or the investigation of charges against such person, or considering the grant or denial of tenure for a university faculty member, and the taking of formal action on any such matter; provided that the faculty member or other public employee or person licensed is given actual notice of any evidentiary hearing which may be held prior to final action being taken and of any meeting at which final action may be taken. The notice shall contain a statement that the person has the right to demand that the evidentiary hearing or meeting be held in open session. This paragraph and par. (f) do not apply to any such evidentiary hearing or meeting where the employee or person licensed requests that an open session be held.
19.85(1)(c) (c) Considering employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility.
19.85(1)(d) (d) Except as provided in s. 304.06 (1) (eg) and by rule promulgated under s. 304.06 (1) (em), considering specific applications of probation, extended supervision or parole, or considering strategy for crime detection or prevention.
19.85(1)(e) (e) Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session.
19.85(1)(ee) (ee) Deliberating by the council on unemployment insurance in a meeting at which all employer members of the council or all employee members of the council are excluded.
19.85(1)(eg) (eg) Deliberating by the council on worker's compensation in a meeting at which all employer members of the council or all employee members of the council are excluded.
19.85(1)(em) (em) Deliberating under s. 157.70 if the location of a burial site, as defined in s. 157.70 (1) (b), is a subject of the deliberation and if discussing the location in public would be likely to result in disturbance of the burial site.
19.85(1)(f) (f) Considering financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons except where par. (b) applies which, if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such histories or data, or involved in such problems or investigations.
19.85(1)(g) (g) Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved.
19.85(1)(h) (h) Consideration of requests for confidential written advice from the elections commission under s. 5.05 (6a) or the ethics commission under s. 19.46 (2), or from any county or municipal ethics board under s. 19.59 (5).
19.85(2) (2)No governmental body may commence a meeting, subsequently convene in closed session and thereafter reconvene again in open session within 12 hours after completion of the closed session, unless public notice of such subsequent open session was given at the same time and in the same manner as the public notice of the meeting convened prior to the closed session.
19.85(3) (3)Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to authorize a governmental body to consider at a meeting in closed session the final ratification or approval of a collective bargaining agreement under subch. I, IV, or V of ch. 111 which has been negotiated by such body or on its behalf.
19.85 Annotation Although a meeting was properly closed, in order to refuse inspection of records of the meeting, the custodian was required by s. 19.35 (1) (a) to state specific and sufficient public policy reasons why the public interest in nondisclosure outweighed the public's right of inspection. Oshkosh Northwestern Co. v. Oshkosh Library Board, 125 Wis. 2d 480, 373 N.W.2d 459 (Ct. App. 1985).
19.85 Annotation The balance between protection of reputation under sub. (1) (f) and the public interest in openness is discussed. Wis. State Journal v. UW-Platteville, 160 Wis. 2d 31, 465 N.W.2d 266 (Ct. App. 1990). See also Pangman v. Stigler, 161 Wis. 2d 828, 468 N.W.2d 784 (Ct. App. 1991).
19.85 Annotation A “case" under sub. (1) (a) contemplates an adversarial proceeding. It does not connote the mere application for and granting of a permit. Hodge v. Turtle Lake, 180 Wis. 2d 62, 508 N.W.2d 603 (1993).
19.85 Annotation A closed session to discuss an employee's dismissal was properly held under sub. (1) (b) and did not require notice to the employee under sub. (1) (b) when no evidentiary hearing or final action took place in the closed session. State ex rel. Epping v. City of Neillsville, 218 Wis. 2d 516, 581 N.W.2d 548 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-0403.
19.85 Annotation The exception under sub. (1) (e) must be strictly construed. A private entity's desire for confidentiality does not permit a closed meeting. A governing body's belief that secret meetings will produce cost savings does not justify closing the door to public scrutiny. Providing contingencies allowing for future public input was insufficient. Because legitimate concerns were present for portions of some of the meetings does not mean the entirety of the meetings fell within the narrow exception under sub. (1) (e). Citizens for Responsible Development v. City of Milton, 2007 WI App 114, 300 Wis. 2d 649, 731 N.W.2d 640, 06-0427.
19.85 Annotation Section 19.35 (1) (a) does not mandate that, when a meeting is closed under this section, all records created for or presented at the meeting are exempt from disclosure. The court must still apply the balancing test articulated in Linzmeyer, 2002 WI 84, 254 Wis. 2d 306. Zellner v. Cedarburg School District, 2007 WI 53, 300 Wis. 2d 290, 731 N.W.2d 240, 06-1143.
19.85 Annotation Nothing in sub. (1) (e) suggests that a reason for going into closed session must be shared by each municipality participating in an intergovernmental body. It is not inconsistent with the open meetings law for a body to move into closed session under sub. (1) (e) when the bargaining position to be protected is not shared by every member of the body. Once a vote passes to go into closed session, the reason for requesting the vote becomes the reason of the entire body. Herro v. Village of McFarland, 2007 WI App 172, 303 Wis. 2d 749, 737 N.W.2d 55, 06-1929.
19.85 Annotation In allowing governmental bodies to conduct closed sessions in limited circumstances, this section does not create a blanket privilege shielding closed session contents from discovery. There is no implicit or explicit confidentiality mandate. A closed meeting is not synonymous with a meeting that, by definition, entails a privilege exempting its contents from discovery. Sands v. The Whitnall School District, 2008 WI 89, 312 Wis. 2d 1, 754 N.W.2d 439, 05-1026.
19.85 Annotation Boards of review cannot rely on the exemptions in sub. (1) to close any meeting in view of the explicit requirements in s. 70.47 (2m). 65 Atty. Gen. 162.
19.85 Annotation A university subunit may discuss promotions not relating to tenure, merit increases, and property purchase recommendations in closed session. 66 Atty. Gen. 60.
19.85 Annotation Neither sub. (1) (c) nor (f) authorizes a school board to make actual appointments of a new member in closed session. 74 Atty. Gen. 70.
19.85 Annotation A county board chairperson and committee are not authorized by sub. (1) (c) to meet in closed session to discuss appointments to county board committees. In appropriate circumstances, sub. (1) (f) would authorize closed sessions. 76 Atty. Gen. 276.
19.85 Annotation Sub. (1) (c) does not permit closed sessions to consider employment, compensation, promotion, or performance evaluation policies to be applied to a position of employment in general. 80 Atty. Gen. 176.
19.85 Annotation A governmental body may convene in closed session to formulate collective bargaining strategy, but sub. (3) requires that deliberations leading to ratification of a tentative agreement with a bargaining unit, as well as the ratification vote, must be held in open session. 81 Atty. Gen. 139.
19.85 Annotation “Evidentiary hearing" as used in sub. (1) (b), means a formal examination of accusations by receiving testimony or other forms of evidence that may be relevant to the dismissal, demotion, licensing, or discipline of any public employee or person covered by that section. A council that considered a mayor's accusations against an employee in closed session without giving the employee prior notice violated the requirement of actual notice to the employee. Campana v. City of Greenfield, 38 F. Supp. 2d 1043 (1999).
19.85 Annotation Closed Session, Open Book: Sifting the Sands Case. Bach. Wis. Law. Oct. 2009.
2019-20 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2021 Wis. Act 30, through all Orders of the Controlled Substances Board filed before and in effect on May 6, 2021, and through all Supreme Court Orders filed before and in effect on April 15, 2021. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after May 6, 2021, other than those made by Supreme Court Order No. 20-07, are designated by NOTES. (Published 5-6-21)