West Virginia

E. Grand jury records

Overview

West Virginia

c. Partial disclosure of information

There is no West Virginia caselaw or statute addressing whether a journalist may be deemed to have waived the privilege. Because the privilege is constitutional in nature, it is likely the privilege may never be deemed to have been waived.

2. Particular fee specifications or provisions.

The FOIA contains no provisions for separate charges for searches, duplication, computer access or printouts, microfiche, or non-print audio or audio-visual records. Since the statute only authorizes charges for the cost of "reproduction," additional "search" charges generally should be prohibited except when expressly authorized by another statute.  An exception to the general rule is found in W. Va.

F. Recording/broadcast of meetings.

The 1999 amendments to the Open Meetings Act add a provision regarding the allowance of radio and television recordings. That section provides:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any radio or television station is entitled to broadcast all or any part of a meeting required to be open.

11. Other penalties.

Imprisonment in the county jail for not more than twenty days is an alternative sanction that, in lieu of or in addition to a fine, may be imposed in the courts' discretion. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-6. Once a circuit court has ordered production of documents or disclosure of information, noncompliance with the order of the court may be punished as contempt of court. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-5(2).

2. Police blotter.

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

2. Expedited appeals

There is no specific procedure for requesting an expedited appeal. Rule 2 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure allows the state Supreme Court to suspend its usual rules "[i]n the interest of expediting decision, or for other good cause shown[.]" There are no special considerations that affect news media subpoenas, other than the fact that Petitions for a Writ of Prohibition or a Writ of Mandamus are more favorably looked upon because of their First Amendment considerations than such Petitions that address other issues.

b. Mandatory or discretionary?

The Freedom of Information Act simply provides that nineteen specified "categories of information are specifically exempt from disclosure under the provisions of [the FOIA]." W. Va. Code §  29B-1-4. If the issue of agency discretion to release documents that fall within one of the nineteen FOIA exemptions were directly presented to the court, it is likely that it would follow the lead of the federal courts whose interpretation of the federal FOIA has held the exemptions to be discretionary rather than mandatory.