A Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday that the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust violated the open-meetings act by allowing Secretary of Environment J.D. Strong and representatives of the appraisal companies to attend closed meetings during the $60 million buyout of residents in the Tar Creek area.

When it came to the issue of payments - the judge said the trust acted within the legal boundary.

About 270 residents of the former lead and zinc mining community filed a lawsuit against LICRAT alleging that when the trust went into closed-session meetings to discuss appraisals, Strong was in the room with them.

In lieu of the ruling, the open meeting matter has been sent back to Ottawa County to decide whether the violation was willful and whether residents should be allowed to see records of the executive sessions.

One of two attorneys for the plaintiffs, Jeff Marr, said in light of the 8-1 vote by judges in the higher court, he believes the district court will be encouraged to release all the trustís records.

The LICRAT appointed by Gov. Brad Henry in 2006, after a subsidence report by the Army Corps of Engineers revealed a high risk for cave-ins in the Picher, Cardin and Hockerville area.