CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY
National Rural Utilities
In Chancery No. 124527
February 24, 1992
By Judge J. Howe Brown
This matter is before the Court on a petition for mandamus filed
by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation.
After hearing oral argument, the Court took the matter under
advisement to consider the applicable law. For the reasons set
forth below, the petition is denied.
A mandamus action generally consists of three elements: (1) a
clear legal right in the petitioner to the relief sought; (2) a
legal duty on the part of the respondent to do the thing which the
petitioner seeks to compel; and (3) the absence of another adequate
remedy. Early Used Cars, Inc. v. Province, 218 Va. 605, 609
(1977). The court finds that the first two elements have not been
satisfactorily established in this case.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act provides that all
official records be open to inspection and copying by citizens of
the Commonwealth. Code section 2.1-342 (A). Certain records are
excluded from the provisions of the Act, however, such as the
records specified in Code section 58.1-3. See Code section 2.1-342
(B) (22). The records referred to in Code section 58.1-3 concern
information acquired by certain tax officials relating to the
transactions, property, income or business of any person, firm or
corporation. Code section 58.1-3 also exempts four classes of tax
records from the scope of that code section, including matters
required by law to be entered on any public assessment roll or
Although the information sought in the present action is part of
the official records kept by the respondent, the information
pertaining to the tax-exempt status of particular entities falls
under the ambit of Code section 58.1-3 and therefore is exempt from
the provisions of the FOIA. Moreover, petitioner has failed to
establish to the court's satisfaction that the information sought
falls under any of the four exceptions to Code section 58.1-3.
Therefore, petitioner has no clear legal right to the
Further, under the FOIA, public bodies are not required to
create or prepare a particular requested record if it does not
already exist. Code section 2.1-342 (A). Public bodies may, but are
not required to, abstract or summarize information from official
records or convert an official record available in one form into
another form at the request of the citizen. Id. With respect to
this latter provision, note that there can be no mandamus to do a
discretionary act. Giles v. County Board of Supervisors, 222 Va.
379, 382 (1981). The respondent has testified that the information
sought by the petitioner does not exist in the form requested.
Thus, there is no legal duty for the respondent to either create a
record or convert existing records into the form requested for a
For these reasons, the petition for mandamus is denied. Counsel
for respondent is requested to prepare an appropriate order.