West Virginia

IV. PROCEDURE FOR ASSERTING RIGHT OF ACCESS

The 1999 amendments substantially change the language of the personal privacy exception to the Act. The amended W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4(b)(6) provides that executive session is appropriate:

C. Federal constitutional provision

The qualified reporter's privilege in West Virginia is based on the Branzburg standard and the state Supreme Court's application of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as explained in Hudok v. Henry. The state Supreme Court reaffirmed the Hudok holding in the later case of State ex rel. Charleston Mail Ass'n v. Ranson, 200 W.Va. 5, 25 Media L. Rep. 2166, 60 A.L.R.5th 827, 488 S.E.2d 5 (1997).

1. Do text messages and/or instant messages constitute a record?

There have been no court decisions indicating whether text messages and/or instant messages constitute a “public record” under West Virginia FOIA. However, depending on the specific circumstances, the holding of Associated Press v. Canterbury, supra. is likely to be instructive insofar as the Court in Associated Press. In that case, the Court recognized that e-mail communications fall within the scope of “writings” covered by the West Virginia FOIA. Text and instant messages are likely to be viewed in the same light.

(1). Time limit for giving notice.

The governing bodies of the executive branch of the state in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action "may file an emergency meeting notice at any time prior to the meeting." W. Va. Code §  6-9A-3. The time limit for giving notice of an emergency meeting is not stated with regard to other public bodies, which must promulgate their own notice rules. Id.

b. A state commission or ombudsman.

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

4. How long should you wait for a response?

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

(5). Other information required in notice.

There is no other information required in the request for an executive session.