West Virginia

b. State attorney general.

The Open Meetings Act does not provide for any appeal to the state Attorney General, and that office generally will issue a written opinion only upon the request of state department heads, prosecuting attorneys, or certain other public officials. In the case of an impending egregious violation of the Open Meetings Act, it might be possible to obtain an informal ruling from the Attorney General's office or from the public agency's other legal advisor, thereby averting such action.

The 1999 amendments added a new subsection 12 to W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4 that provides:

9. Confidential informants.

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

3. Provisions for fee waivers.

The FOIA does not contain any specific provisions for fee waivers when disclosure would be in the public interest. However, the statute merely authorizes, and does not require, public bodies to charge for copies. Therefore, agencies clearly have discretion to waive copying charges when this would serve the public interest.

C. Testimony vs. affidavits

Although the rules in West Virginia do not specify whether a sworn affidavit may take the place of in-court testimony, litigants have been known to accept such affidavits in return for dropping the personal appearance requirement of the subpoena, especially when the subpoena was issued simply confirm that an article was true and accurate as published. Thus, it usually is helpful to inquire of the subpoenaing party's counsel whether they will accept an affidavit in lieu of a personal appearance, as oftentimes such an offer will be accepted.

D. Still cameras

Overview

West Virginia

9. Appointed as well as elected bodies.

Whether an agency is appointed or elected makes no difference under the Open Meetings Act as long as it is a public agency.

7. What court.

A petition under the Open Meetings Act must be filed in "the circuit court in the county where the public agency regularly meets." W. Va. Code § 6-9A-6. In extraordinary cases, a petition could be filed in the state Supreme Court, seeking a writ of mandamus or prohibition. See the preceding section, on the Freedom of Information Act, for a more detailed discussion of the availability of this remedy.

3. Student records.

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

C. Court-derived exclusions, common law prohibitions, recognized privileges against disclosure.

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.