The Supreme Court of Appeals has stated repeatedly that the specific exemptions contained in section four of the Freedom of Information Act are the only exemptions from disclosure under the Act. However, while the court has never specifically decided any claim for confidentiality based upon any privileges against disclosure which existed at common law, the court has recognized privileges in the context of FOIA litigation in three cases.
As noted previously, a meeting is "the convening of a governing body of a public agency for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter which results in an official action.
Any FOIA request must describe the information sought "with reasonable specificity." W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(4). Written requests should also specify that the request is being made both under the Freedom of Information Act and under the common law right of access. If another statute provides for broader access to the requested materials, that statute also should be mentioned.
There are no cases dealing with private matters discussed in text or instant messages on government hardware. Such communications would probably qualify as a “writing” under FOIA, but would likely be held to fall outside FOIA disclosure requirements unless the messages “relate to the conduct of the public’s business” as interpreted by the Court in Associated Press v. Canterbury, supra.