West Virginia

X. Special Proceedings


West Virginia

b. Need to address fee issues.

The statute does say that furnishing copies is one permissible response. It also indicates that the public body may establish fees to reimburse it for the actual cost of reproduction. Does this mean that a public body may respond with copies and a bill for reproduction costs? This should be allowed only if copies are requested and the fees understood. If there is any doubt, the public body should offer the option of the second response, and make known the time and place at which the person may inspect and copy the records. Most persons probably will prefer this latter course.

B. State constitutional provision

The West Virginia Constitution does not contain a specific "shield" law provision. However, in Hudok v. Henry, where the state Supreme Court of Appeals articulated the qualified privilege for reporters, the state Supreme Court cited Article III, § 7 of the West Virginia Constitution, in addition to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Branzburg standard, as the bases for the qualified reporter's privilege. Article III, § 7 of the West Virginia Constitution states, in pertinent part:

1. Attorney General's role.

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not explicitly mention the Attorney General's role in enforcement of the Act. The West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act provides that "It is the duty of the attorney general to compile the statutory and case law pertaining to this article and to prepare appropriate summaries and interpretations for the purpose of informing all public officials subject to this article of the requirements of this article." W. Va. Code, § 6-9A-12. See, http://www.wvago.gov/pdf/OpenMeetingsHandbook2006.pdf  .

3. Pro se possibility, advisability.

It is possible for such a petition to be filed pro se (without the assistance of a lawyer), although the Act does not address this situation in particular. Whether filing a petition pro se is advisable depends upon the complexity of the facts involved and the knowledge of the person filing the petition. The advisability of proceeding without a lawyer is discussed in more detail in the section above on the Freedom of Information Act.

(4). Public agenda items required.

In the case of emergency meetings held by executive agencies of state government, the notice must include the purpose of the meeting. There is nothing in the Act specifying the agenda items that must be included in the emergency meeting notices of other public bodies, but the provision that notice of all "special" meetings include the purpose presumably would apply to emergency meetings also.

4. Contents of appeal letter.

(This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)



West Virginia