Lincoln County Commission warned it could face First Amendment lawsuit
Public comment policy bars people from talking about topics covered by executive session
The Lincoln County Commission has been put on notice that it will be sued unless it changes a public comment policy that restricts the topics that people can speak on during commission meetings.
R. Shawn Tornow, a Sioux Falls lawyer, filed what’s known as a 3-21 notice with the county, a legal stipulation in state law that requires potential plaintiffs of public entities and employees to notify them of an impending lawsuit. Tornow, a former assistant city attorney for Sioux Falls, is representing Lincoln County resident Linda Montgomery.
The commission adopted a public comment policy that forbids people from talking about subjects that are covered under the state’s executive session carve-out to public meetings. Those carve-outs allow elected officials to meet outside of the public in closed-door meetings to discuss sensitive matters, including potential litigation, land acquisition and personnel matters, among others.