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Court: Closed session selection of mayor was 'improper'

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HOPEWELL, Va. (AP) - A Hopewell Circuit judge has ruled that the Hopewell City Council acted "improperly" by holding a closed session before selecting a mayor and vice mayor earlier this year.

Media outlets report that Judge W. Allan Sharrett sided Tuesday with Hopewell resident Janice Denton, whose initial complaint that the Jan. 6 meeting violated the state's Freedom of Information Act was dismissed by a lower court in February.

Sharrett ruled that the City Council had elected the officials, rather than appointed them. Sharrett says a state exemption that allows for closed sessions applies only to appointments, and not elections.

Virginia Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Megan Rhyne tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1mQImOV ) that the decision won't set a legal precedent, but it will provide guidance for other courts facing a similar test of open-meeting law.

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