Adult Parole Board audit reveals multiple Right-to-Know Law violations

The State of New Hampshire Adult Parole Board Performance Audit Report dated April 2019 documents multiple Right-to-Know law violations.  The audit was performed by the State of NH Office of Legislative Budget Assistant based on a recommendation of the Joint Legislative Performance Audit and Oversight Committee.

The violations found include:

  1. The Board regularly conducted its administrative meetings in a manner contrary to Right-to-Know Law requirements.
  2. The Board was unable to provide minutes for eight of the 17 meetings during the audit period.
  3. The Board had at least three legal consultations during the audit period after its public meetings had adjourned. However, the Board did not limit its discussions to legal matters and did not reconvene to deliberate or finalize its decisions.
  4. [The Board] did not post meeting notices in two locations as required.
  5. The Board did not render final decisions in compliance with statute. Instead, the hearing panel informally discussed the matter until a general consensus was reached, and a member of the panel would announce the decision without any corresponding motions or votes.

The Audit Findings recommend the following:

  1. The Board comply with Right-to-Know Law requirements when conducting any Board business by posting notices, properly finalizing decisions, adopting minutes, and posting approved minutes;

    • enter into non-public session to discuss sensitive and confidential matters or materials; and
    • limit discussions to legal matters during consultation with legal counsel and deliberate and finalize decisions in public or non-public meetings.

  2. The Board immediately obtain clarification from the DOJ as to whether the Board should conduct hearings under its authority in public or non-public session. Regardless of the final determination for conducting hearings, the Board should begin developing formal procedures to comply with the Right-to-Know Law by:

    • posting notice of meetings in two public locations;
    • formally opening hearings by the Board Chair or designated chair;
    • ensuring verbatim recordings identify all members and persons appearing before the Board for the record;
    • making proper motions during hearings;
    • voting on final decisions; and
    • documenting, adopting, and retaining meeting minutes for each hearing day containing names of members present, persons appearing before the Board, brief description of subject matter, and final decisions.

  3. The Board formalize training of the Right-to-Know Law by incorporating the Memorandum and investigating the availability of training provided by the DOJ. The Board should require attendance of all Board members and key Board staff as part of formal training.
  4. The Board review administrative rules related to disclosing member votes and providing verbatim recordings to any person upon request, and remedy conflicts with statute.