West Virginia

2. Is software and/or file metadata public?

There have been no court decisions or agency guidance indicating how file metadata is to be treated for purposes of FOIA analysis.

3. Nature of appeal

There is no "appeal by right" to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; the acceptance of an appeal by that court is entirely discretionary. A party may seek extraordinary relief in the Supreme Court by filing a Petition for Writ of Prohibition or for Writ of mandamus to preclude enforcement of the circuit court's ruling or to compel the court to rule in the correct manner. Like a Petition for Appeal, Petitions for extraordinary writs, such as Prohibition or Mandamus are discretionary.

1. Civil

In most civil cases, the level of protection afforded the reporter in West Virginia is quite good. As stated by the state Supreme Court of Appeals in Hudok v. Henry, the party seeking to compel information from a reporter generally must show "clearly and specifically" that the information sought from the reporter is (1) "highly material and relevant, necessary or critical to the maintenance of the case"; and (2) "not obtainable from other available sources." Thus, the burden on a party in a civil case seeking information from a non-party reporter is very high.

3. Closed meetings or executive sessions.

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

1. Who may sue?

Just as "any person" may request access to records under the Freedom of Information Act, "any person denied the right to inspect the public record of a public body" may sue to enforce that right. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-5(1).

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.

I. Economic development records.

W. Va. Code § 5B-2-1 exempts from the West Virginia FOIA “any documentary material, data or other writing made or received by any public body whose primary responsibility is economic development for the purpose of furnishing assistance to a new or existing business. This exemption specifically applies to the West Virginia economic development office and other similar public bodies with such responsibilities.

1. Status of requestor.

Any person or entity may obtain access to records.

e. News organization / medium

In West Virginia, the reporter's privilege is not distinguished in its application to different types of media (i.e., newspaper, magazine, broadcast outlet, or Internet Web site). Beyond the Hudok court's citation to the Von Bulow case and the Von Bulow court's elaboration on the general criteria used to determine whether one is a member of the class entitled to claim the reporter's privilege, there is no law or statute that formally defines the individuals or entities who are entitled to assert the reporters' privilege.