West Virginia

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

Secret Courts | Feature | August 9, 1999
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
April 21, 1997

Reporter's privilege upheld in murder trial


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the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.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
June 17, 1996

Private session with school administrators violated meetings law


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
May 16, 1995

Judge quashes subpoenas issued by criminal defendant


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.

11. Other penalties.

Imprisonment in the county jail for not more than twenty days is an alternative sanction that, in lieu of or in addition to a fine, may be imposed in the courts' discretion. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-6. Once a circuit court has ordered production of documents or disclosure of information, noncompliance with the order of the court may be punished as contempt of court. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-5(2).

2. Police blotter.

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

1. What kind of records are covered?

The Freedom of Information Act applies to "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business, prepared, owned and retained by a public body." W. Va. Code §  29B-1-2(4).

a. Fines

In West Virginia, there is very little, if any history of reporters being fined for failure to comply with a subpoena. There is no specific cap on such fines, and there is no statute or caselaw specifically addressing contempt proceedings where a reporter refuses to comply with a subpoena.

B. Budget sessions.

The statute does not permit budget sessions to be closed to the public. As discussed earlier, the state Supreme Court held in Common Cause v. Tomblin that the process of preparing the Budget Digest must be conducted in conformance with the Open Meetings Act.