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the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.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.

II. Authority for and source of the right

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has held that a reporter is entitled to a qualified privilege when engaged in the news-gathering function. This qualified privilege was enunciated first in State ex rel. Hudok v. Henry, 182 W.Va. 500, 17 Media L.Rep. 1627, 389 S.E.2d 188 (W.Va. 1990). The state Supreme Court delineated a balancing test for application of the reporter's privilege. The source for the privilege was found in the United States Supreme Court's decision in Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 92 S.Ct.

D. Budgets.

Generally, final versions of budgets of West Virginia governmental entities should be disclosed upon receipt of a FOIA request. It is possible that government bodies may claim that proposed budgets fall within exemption 8 of the FOIA, §29B-1-4(a)(8). That exemption relates to internal predecisional information. See Daily Gazette v. W. Va. Development Office, 198 W.Va. 563, 482 S.E.2d 180 (1996).

Open Meetings

(This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

b. Deliberations toward decisions.

The Open Meetings Act does not mention deliberations toward decisions. Before McComas, supra, the West Virginia Supreme Court had held that deliberations toward decisions constitute an adjudicatory session, exempt from the Act under W. Va. Code § 6-9A-2(4) (Appalachian Power, supra) and deliberations seemed to be exempt from the public's constitutional right of access to adjudicatory proceedings under the State Bar and Board of Medicine decisions.

V. PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING RECORDS

This section addresses the most frequently asked question under the Freedom of Information Act: "How do I file an FOIA request?"