Times Asks LSBEP About 251 And Open Meetings Law

From The Psychology Times, Vol 3, No 3

Last month the Times wrote to the Psychology Board to ask for more information regarding the board’s 2009 discussion about Act 251. The Times’ publisher asked for information to determine if the exception the board called upon in 2010 was still in effect.

The board reviewed the Times’ request at the recent meeting on October 28. The new Chair, Dr. Tony Young, told the Times’ publisher that he could see the importance of the request and that the board would need time to further study the issue.

Dr. Young, and several other board members, indicated that the question had to do with the balance between the exceptions allowed in the open meetings law, and the responsibility for transparency. “We need to study the issue a little more,” Dr. Young said. “I think your objection is important, and has to do with transparency,” he told the publisher, who attended the meeting. “We must defer until we get all the data.”

In June 2010 the Times asked the board about its deliberations regarding Act 251, which occurred at its May 8, 2009 meeting. The Times asked, “Was it discussed that shared regulatory control over the profession of psychology could confuse the public? If so, what were your findings?” and “Was it discussed that having a non- psychology board regulate psychology would lower the quality of psychological service delivered to the public? If so, what were your findings?” The publisher also included questions about conflict of interest for medical psychologists serving on the board and whether any of those board members recused themselves from the Act 251 deliberations.

The Times also asked for a copy of a memo from board attorney Mr. Lloyd Lunceford. This memo was mentioned in the minutes of May 8, 2009. The minutes noted

“…Concerns over the effects of this Bill [Act 251] on the financial and regulatory operations of the Board, the practice of psychology, and the practice of medical psychology were discussed by all present. The LSBEP elected to request a legal opinion from Attorney Lloyd Lunceford concerning the impact on the LSBEP for future consideration by the Board.”

The topics listed in the May 8, 2009 minutes, and the “impact on the LSBEP,” does not appear to fall in the list of exceptions to the open meetings rules.

Dr. Joseph Comaty wrote back to the Times publisher on July 23, 2010. He said in this letter that the board takes its responsibility under the Open Meetings Law seriously. However, none of the Times’ questions were answered. Rather, Dr. Comaty referred the publisher back to the minutes, which the publisher had already reviewed and which did not answer the questions.

“Anticipation of Litigation”

In Dr. Comaty’s response, he also noted that the memo from Mr. Lunceford was exempt from being reviewed by the public. He said the memo about 251 was protected under an exception to the open meetings law and/or general attorney client privilege.

The exception he noted was R.S. 44:4.1C, which is: “C. The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to any writings, records, or other accounts that reflect the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or theories of an attorney or an expert, obtained or prepared in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”

In this latest request for more information, the Times publisher asked “1) Are you involved in litigation regarding issues addressed by Mr. Lunceford’s memo? 2) What type of claim are you involved in or anticipating? 3) When does the statue of limitations expire for the issue that you are anticipating?”

Dr. Young indicated to the publisher that the Times would receive a response after the board could study the issues.

Dr. Tony Young, licensed psychologist and associate professor from Louisiana Tech, is the current Chair of the LSBEP. Dr. Young took over for Dr. Joseph Comaty who finished his five-year term on the psychology board this past spring.

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