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the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.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

Open Meetings

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

b. State attorney general.

The Open Meetings Act does not provide for any appeal to the state Attorney General, and that office generally will issue a written opinion only upon the request of state department heads, prosecuting attorneys, or certain other public officials. In the case of an impending egregious violation of the Open Meetings Act, it might be possible to obtain an informal ruling from the Attorney General's office or from the public agency's other legal advisor, thereby averting such action.

The 1999 amendments added a new subsection 12 to W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4 that provides:

c. Minutes.

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

3. Is delay recognized as a denial for appeal purposes?

The FOIA does not specify the consequences of a public body's failure to respond within the five-day limit. The courts routinely have treated such lack of response, for appeal purposes, as a denial of the request.

A. Burden, standard of proof

In civil and administrative proceedings, a subpoenaing party may overcome the qualified reporter's privilege only if it can make "a clear and specific showing that the information is highly material and relevant, necessary or critical to the maintenance of the claim, and not obtainable from other available sources." State ex rel. Hudok v. Henry, supra. In criminal proceedings, a criminal defendant must make a similar showing, "with particularity," as it relates to his theory or theories of defense, meaning, he must explain "what information he/she expects the media material to contain.