West Virginia

2. Trustee records.

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

B. Other statutory exclusions.

As stated, statutory provisions preserve the confidentiality of certain court records such as divorce (W. Va. Code § 48-2-27), adoption (W. Va. Code § 48-4-10), and certain juvenile proceedings (W. Va. Code § 49-5-17); tax information (W. Va. Code § 11-10-5d); etc. However, for any other state statute to nullify the public's right of access to public records, the statute must "specifically" exempt the particular information from disclosure, W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4(5), and "the party claiming exemption . . .

1. To whom is the appeal made?

Appeals are made from the circuit court level directly to the state Supreme Court. There is no intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia. Although it unlikely that a reporter subpoena would be issued in a magistrate court proceeding in West Virginia, appeals from Magistrate Court go first to the circuit court, and then to the state Supreme Court, with the circuit court acting as an intermediate appellate court.

1. Interviews for public employment.

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

1. Regular meetings.

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

B. Absolute or qualified privilege

The reporters' privilege is a qualified one in West Virginia. However, West Virginia treats all information acquired by the reporter in the news-gathering process in the same, qualified manner. Thus, whether the information sought from a reporter is the identity of a confidential source, or unpublished, non-confidential notes or observations, the qualified privilege is the same. Unfortunately, although the qualified protection afforded such information in civil cases is quite good, there is at present no absolute privilege in West Virginia for confidential source identities.

3. Contents of a written request.

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

2. Public matter message on government hardware.

There have been no court decisions indicating whether text messages and/or instant messages constitute a “public record” under West Virginia FOIA. However, Public matter messages on government hardware are likely to be held to be “writings” under state law requiring disclosure if such messages “relate to the conduct of the public’s business.” Associated Press v. Canterbury, supra.