West Virginia

b. E-mail.

There have been no reported meetings conducted via computer, whether by way of an online chat or through e-mail.

2. Does the law cover oral requests?

The FOIA requires a denial of a request for access to records to be in writing, but the request itself may be either oral or written. However, as Professor Neely notes, written requests often have practical advantages:

For evidentiary purposes a written request would prove useful in subsequent judicial review proceedings, if an oral request is denied or if refusal is anticipated at the outset. Additionally, a written request will establish precisely what is being requested for purposes of deliberation within the public body.

B. Dependency

Overview

West Virginia

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 . . .

2. Applicable time limits.

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

A. Newspaper articles

A newsperson is not required to testify in court that a particular article actually appeared in the newspaper in order to authenticate the article. Pursuant to Rule 902(6) of the West Virginia Rules of Evidence, newspapers are self-authenticating and therefore, testimony by the author/reporter is unnecessary to authenticate the article for admissibility purposes. Therefore, if a reporter is subpoenaed for that purpose, the subpoena should be quashed easily.

(2). Are minutes public record?

The minutes of open meetings are public records and must be made available to the public within a reasonable time after the meeting is held. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-5. Any tape recording made of the meeting also is a public record. Veltri v. Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, supra.

C. Administrative appeal.

Unlike the federal FOIA, West Virginia's Freedom of Information Act has no provisions for administrative appeals. Since the request for records must be made to the agency's chief executive — "the elected or appointed official charged with administering a public body," W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(2) — there usually is no practical avenue for informal administrative appeals.