West Virginia

FOREWORD

There have been several important court decisions interpreting West Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since the Fifth Edition of this guide was published in 2006 and three exemptions to the Act added by amendment. The Open Governmental Proceedings Act (called "the Sunshine Law" in West Virginia, but referred to herein as the Open Meetings Act) has not been amended since 1999.

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act begins with an emphatic declaration that the people of the state demand an open government:

(1). Information required.

The Act's 1999 amendments appear to exempt minutes of executive sessions from public disclosure; the amendment appears to presume that such minutes will be prepared. Provision is made for the later disclosure of that portion of executive session minutes when they contain reference to confidential settlement and other matters that are later rendered non-confidential by subsequent action.

7. What court.

Suits seeking access to records under the Freedom of Information Act ordinarily must be brought "in the circuit court in the county where the public record is kept." W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(4).

L. Parole board meetings, or meetings involving parole board decisions.

The Open Meetings Act does not specifically authorize the closure of parole board meetings. Although parole board proceedings might arguably fall within W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4(7), it is more likely that the courts would not apply that exception in such circumstances. Moreover, the state Supreme Court narrowed the scope of a similar exemption under the Freedom of Information Act in Hechler v. Casey, supra. Further, to the extent that the parole board exercises quasi-judicial functions, its proceedings are subject to the constitutional open courts mandate.

3. Applications.

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

B. Anonymous juries

Overview

West Virginia

a. Bodies receiving public funds or benefits.

The Freedom of Information Act applies to "any other body . . . which is primarily funded by [a] state or local authority." In 4-H Road Community Association v. W. Va. University Foundation, 182 W. Va.