Committee Members – Be Mindful Of What You Say Or Might Imply Outside Of (Or Inside) The Meeting

David W. Tate, Esq., San Francisco and California –

I would put the following in the categories of: Committee members – (1) be mindful of what you say or might imply outside of a meeting; (2) be mindful of what you say or might imply in public; (3) be mindful of what you say or might imply to the press; and (4) be mindful and constructive in what you say or might imply about a matter that was discussed and about another committee member.

For this example let’s assume the following hypothetical which is not too uncommon: an article is written by a journalist about the actions and decision of a committee, and later outside-of-the-meeting, public comments that the journalist attributes as being said to the journalist by two of the members of the committee. In this hypothetical the subject matter, the people and their titles, and the entity are not important; thus, I have not included or commented about them. Also remember that representations including alleged quotes in an article are the journalist’s view of what occurred and what was said to her or him – unless we were present, we would not know what was actually said in the meeting, or the entirety of what was said to the journalist – trust, and trust in the journalist are so important. Nevertheless, however, always be mindful of what you say because some version or part of what you say might be presented in public print or video.

The hypothetical attributes the first comment to Member #1 as she or he discusses her or his view of how the subject matter in the meeting should be viewed. The situation attributes the next two comments to Member #2 at least in part in reply. Of course, it is unlikely that the comments were made to the journalist in that timing sequence, i.e., one comment immediately made one after the other. Consider the differences in approaches, and also the possible perspective and optics from the view of the committee as a whole.

I am sure that many of us, perhaps most of us, have experienced or heard about similar situations in relation to activities in which we have been involved. For the purpose of this post, I am viewing the hypothetical from the perspective of Member #1’s comment when compared to Member #2’s comments, and their two different approaches from an argument or debate perspective, and also as interactions (and possibly impacting future interactions) between two members of the same committee. I considered adding a few comments from the perspective of 10,000 feet about interactions between members of a committee, debate and negotiation styles and strategies, and argument and argument reasoning fallacies. However, as this post already is long enough, I leave those considerations to you and merely note that Member #1’s approach is reflective and broad, whereas Member #2’s approach is directed toward Member #1 and in a personal manner. In this type of situation, I would also recommend that the committee discuss and review its policies and procedures pertaining to statements that are made both inside and outside of meetings.

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California) –


Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

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Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.


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