West Virginia

4. Subpoena not overbroad or unduly burdensome

In West Virginia, a motion for a protective order may be made to the trial court if the subpoenaed party believes the subpoena is over-broad or unduly burdensome, and the determination of the motion is governed by the procedural rules.

1. Where to ask for ruling.

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

a. Search.

In 2010 reports surfaced of West Virginia state and local government public bodies charging one dollar or more per page for copying records sought by FOIA requesters as well as billing for research and search time. There have been no judicial decisions directly addressing the issue of the scope of public bodies’ authority to impose copying, research and search fees. The starting point for analyzing this issue is the language of the FOIA itself. Section 29B-1-3 (5) states in relevant part:

(3). Where posted.

Except for the requirement that state executive agencies file notice of their meetings with the secretary of state for publication in the state register, the statute does not state where notice of meetings must be posted. The Attorney General has advised that posting a notice on the courthouse door will fulfill the requirements of the statute for county commission meetings, Op. Att'y Gen., June 23, 1978, and that all state agencies should, at a minimum, file notice with the Secretary of State. Op. Att'y Gen., Nov. 20, 1978.

A. Authorization


West Virginia

e. Other.

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

C. Testimony vs. affidavits

Although the rules in West Virginia do not specify whether a sworn affidavit may take the place of in-court testimony, litigants have been known to accept such affidavits in return for dropping the personal appearance requirement of the subpoena, especially when the subpoena was issued simply confirm that an article was true and accurate as published. Thus, it usually is helpful to inquire of the subpoenaing party's counsel whether they will accept an affidavit in lieu of a personal appearance, as oftentimes such an offer will be accepted.

b. Invalidate the decision.

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

c. Patterned after federal Freedom of Information Act?

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act is similar to the federal statute in many respects, and the West Virginia Supreme Court recognized "the close relationship between the federal and West Virginia FOIA . . . in particular the value of federal precedents in construing our state FOIA's parallel provisions." Daily Gazette v. W. Va. Development Office, supra. It should be noted, however, that the eleven new exemptions added to W. Va. Code, §  29B-1-4  since 2003 are not patterned after those contained in the federal FOIA, 5 U.S.C. §  552 (b) (1) - (9).