West Virginia

State high court upholds trial court's closure of juvenile court proceedings

Secret Courts | Feature | August 9, 1999
Feature
August 9, 1999

WEST VIRGINIA--In mid-July, the state Supreme Court of Appeals in Charleston, the state's highest court, unanimously upheld a trial court's order closing a case concerning the suspension of a student by the school board and sealing juvenile education records because it found a compelling public policy of protecting the confidentiality of juvenile information in all court proceedings exists in the state.

Reporter's privilege upheld in murder trial

Reporter's Privilege | Feature | April 21, 1997
Feature
April 21, 1997

Reporter's privilege upheld in murder trial

04/21/97

WEST VIRGINIA--Affirming that a qualified reporter's privilege does exist in West Virginia, the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.

Private session with school administrators violated meetings law

Freedom of Information | Feature | June 17, 1996
Feature
June 17, 1996

Private session with school administrators violated meetings law

06/17/96

WEST VIRGINIA--The state Supreme Court of Appeals in mid-May affirmed 5-0 a circuit court decision holding that the Fayette County School Board violated the Open Governmental Proceedings Act when four of its five members met privately with school system administrators the day before voting on the closing and consolidation of three schools.

Judge quashes subpoenas issued by criminal defendant

Reporter's Privilege | Feature | May 16, 1995
Feature
May 16, 1995

Judge quashes subpoenas issued by criminal defendant

05/16/95

WEST VIRGINIA--In early May, a trial judge quashed subpoenas issued to two newspaper reporters by a criminal defendant who was attempting to force the judge to recuse himself from the case.

3. Grand jury

Although there are no West Virginia cases directly on point addressing a reporter's privilege in the grand jury context, nevertheless, the Hudok court acknowledged that a reporter's privilege "will yield in proceedings before a grand jury where the reporter has personal knowledge or is aware of confidential sources that bear on the criminal investigation[.]" The Hudok court cited with approval the United States Supreme Court's decision in Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 92 S.Ct.

Q. Students; discussions on individual students.

Another broad exemption under the Act authorizes executive sessions to discuss the "disciplining, suspension or expulsion of any student in any public school or public college or university, unless such student requests an open meeting." W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4(b)(3).

1. Appeal routes.

The only appeal route from an adverse circuit court ruling in a FOIA suit is to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

5. Private matter on private e-mail

There have been no court decisions indicating how private records contained in private e-mail archives should be treated. However, based upon the West Virginia Court’s holding in Associated Press v. Canterbury, supra. it is likely that records of discussion of private matters on private e-mail will fall outside the law’s disclosure requirements because they fail to fall within the definition of  West Virginia FOIA’s definition of “public record.”

a. Rules for active investigations.

(This section is blank. See the point above.)