West Virginia

3. Balancing of interests

The essence of the reporter's privilege in West Virginia is the balancing of interests. In some contexts, such as civil cases not involving libel claims, the reporter interest is given the most weight. In other contexts, namely the grand jury context, the "public interest" in solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice is given more weight. And in a third context, such as criminal proceedings implicating a defendant's Fifth Amendment rights, or libel cases, the weight given to the reporter versus the weight given the defendant is more equal.

a. What officials are covered?

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

4. Nongovernmental bodies.

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

1. Who may sue?

Any "citizen" of this state may file a petition challenging the action of a public agency under the Open Meetings Act. W. Va. Code §§ 6-9A-3 and 6. Although the statute originally required the plaintiff to "show a good faith and valid reason for making the application," the provision was deleted in a 1993 amendment. Only a person "adversely affected" by a decision may have the decision invalidated solely on the grounds the body gave improper notice of the meeting. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-3.

P. Public utility records.

Public utility records in the possession of any public body such as the Public Service Commission would be subject to disclosure unless the particular information sought is one of the sixteen exempt categories discussed in the previous section.

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. Deliberations toward decisions.

The Open Meetings Act does not mention deliberations toward decisions. Before McComas, supra, the West Virginia Supreme Court had held that deliberations toward decisions constitute an adjudicatory session, exempt from the Act under W. Va. Code § 6-9A-2(4) (Appalachian Power, supra) and deliberations seemed to be exempt from the public's constitutional right of access to adjudicatory proceedings under the State Bar and Board of Medicine decisions.

4. Requirements or prohibitions regarding advance payment.

The Freedom of Information Act neither requires nor specifically prohibits the advance payment of fees.