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the state Supreme Court in mid-March overturned a Circuit Court judge's decision ordering two newspapers to turn over unpublished photographs to a defendant on trial for murder.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

A. Shield law statute

West Virginia has no statutory "shield" law. This likely is because there is a general acceptance of the state Supreme Court's articulation of the qualified reporter's privilege in Hudok v. Henry. In Hudok, the state Supreme Court explained the qualified privilege as follows:

1. Appeal routes.

The only appeal route from a circuit court decision is to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

7. Advisory boards and commissions, quasi-governmental entities.

The Open Meetings Act's definition of a "public agency" — as "[A]ny administrative or legislative unit of state, county or municipal government, including any department, division, bureau, office, commission, authority, board, public corporation, section, committee, subcommittee or any other agency or subunit of the foregoing, authorized by law to exercise some portion of executive or legislative power." W. Va. Code § 6-9A-2.

1. Athletic records.

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

B. Can the requester obtain a customized search of computer databases to fit particular needs?

There are no state Supreme Court cases addressing whether someone can obtain a customized search, and agencies willingness to do so reportedly varies.  For instance, the staff of one agency that oversees the computerized census information may perform customized searches, but will only make the information available in hard copy.