West Virginia

V. PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING RECORDS

This section addresses the most frequently asked question under the Freedom of Information Act: "How do I file an FOIA request?"

c. Other.

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B. Separation orders

West Virginia case law and statutes do not address separation orders issued against reporters who are both trying to cover the trial and are on a witness list. Anecdotally, this problem has occurred in federal cases in West Virginia, although reporters have resolved the issue by informally persuading the party who named them to remove them from the list.

G. Reporter's personal observations

In general, the law in West Virginia does not differ in its treatment of the privilege on the basis of whether the information was obtained by the reporter as an eyewitness. However, it should be remembered that the likelihood of breaching the privilege is much higher if the party issuing the subpoena can show the reporter is an eyewitness to crucial information, and the reporter is the only source of that crucial information the party is seeking. In this regard, the Hudok court explained:

(2). Commission or independent agency.

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(6). Penalties and remedies for failure to give adequate notice.

Although the Open Meetings Act does not spell out the notice requirements for most public bodies, it does include a very specific penalty for the failure to provide adequate notice in accordance with the statute. Where an "adversely affected party" files a petition challenging the public agency's action, any court of competent jurisdiction "may invalidate any action taken at any meeting for which notice did not comply" with the notice requirements of the Act. W. Va. Code §  6-9A-3.

2. Informal telephone inquiry as to status.

Unless the agency has clearly indicated its intention to refuse the request, however, an informal telephone inquiry regarding the status of the request is advisable if the response is not received within the time limit. If the initial request was oral, or was made to someone other than the official "custodian" of the records, a written inquiry directed to the custodian — including a reminder that you will seek reimbursement for attorneys' fees if the agency's failure to respond necessitates legal action — would be preferable.

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 . . .

A. In general

Overview

West Virginia