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.
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the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.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
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.
The Open Meetings Act does not provide any penalties for failing to follow the rules set out for going into executive session. The Act does provide that the public agency cannot make any decision in executive session; therefore any decision reached in such a closed meeting would be voidable.
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.
The complaint need only contain a "short and plain" statement of your claim. If it seeks injunctive relief, it must be verified. Describe the contents of the request, and state when and to whom the request was made. Recount the reasons (if any) given for its denial. Invoke the FOIA, as well as the state constitution and common law, if applicable, as the legal basis for your claim. If either your request or the denial is in writing, attach a copy to the complaint. The most important thing is to clearly identify the information to which you were denied access.