West Virginia

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.

I. Appellate records

Overview

West Virginia

2. Applicable time limits.

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

a. Necessity

The only requirement for an in camera review of a reporter's materials is in the context of a criminal proceeding. Charleston Mail Ass'n. v. Ranson. In that case, two newspapers filed motions to quash subpoenas ducus tecum served on them by a criminal defendant who sought unpublished photographs of the crime scene.

(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.

F. Contracts, proposals and bids.

Public contracts are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and, in 4-H Road Community Association v. WVU Foundation, supra, the Supreme Court observed that leases between West Virginia University and other parties were public documents subject to disclosure by the University under the FOIA.

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.

2. Geographic Information Systems. R3J2

For more than a decade several West Virginia agencies have been involved in developing a geographic information system to use in the appraisal and assessment of reserve coal property. It is not clear whether such information might fall within one of the state tax code's exemptions of tax-related data. Otherwise, to the extent that geographical information system data does not fall within a specific FOIA exemption contained in another statute, it should be disclosed.

H. Post-trial records

Overview

West Virginia

9. Availability of court costs and attorneys' fees.

In 1993 the Open Meetings Act was amended to permit the courts to order the governing body to pay the "necessary attorney fees and expenses" of persons bringing suit under the statute if (a) the court entered an order compelling compliance or enjoining noncompliance with the statute, or annulling a decision made in violation of the act; and (b) the court finds the governing body "intentionally violated the provisions" of the statute. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-6(7).