West Virginia

1. Rules for active investigations.

Other than cases construing FOIA exemptions, there have been no specific court decisions or statutory references to application of FOIA to active administrative law enforcement investigations. Worker safety and health inspections, or accident investigations arguably may be viewed as falling within the FOIA exemption for records of law-enforcement agencies that deal with the detection and investigation of crime and the internal records and notations of such law-enforcement agencies which are maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement


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

A. Is there a right to participate in public meetings?

The Open Meetings Act does not address the issue of the public's right to comment at public meetings. Section 6-9A-3 provides that "persons who desire to address the governing body may not be required to register more than fifteen minutes prior to [the] time the scheduled meeting is to commence." The statute does not explicitly provide a public right to comment and there are no West Virginia cases addressing this issue.

(2). Are minutes a public record?

The 1999 amendments indicate that the official minutes of the executive session need not be made available to the public. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-5. If an agency makes an informal written record of a discussion held in a closed executive session, these notes also probably are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Op. Att'y Gen., July 17, 1986.

1. Contact other party first

If a subpoena is issued during the discovery phase of a civil case, it is governed by Rule 26(c) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure. That Rule requires a party seeking a protective order, i.e., an order that the discovery sought by the subpoenaing party not be allowed, must "confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action[.]" Before a motion is filed to stop or quash a discovery subpoena, the party seeking to stop the subpoena must certify to the court that a good faith effort to confer has been made.

8. Judicial remedies available.

The Freedom of Information Act specifically authorizes declaratory and injunctive relief. These same remedies are available if the records are sought under a common law right of access or the constitutional open courts mandate, and the complaint should invoke all applicable bases for relief.

4. Personally identifying information.

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

2. Disciplinary records.

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

3. Courts.

Court records are open to public inspection under the Freedom of Information Act. Associated Press v. Canterbury, 224 W.Va. 708, 688 S.E.2d 317 (2009). Access to court records is also guaranteed by the open courts provision of the state constitution (W. Va. Constitution, Article III, §  17) (see Daily Gazette v. W. Va. State Bar, 326 S.E.2d 705, Syllabus pt. 4) and by W. Va. Code §  51-4-2 (1981), which the Supreme Court applied in Richardson v. Town of Kimball, supra.