When possible, the Coalition will gather briefs filed in past and pending litigation and post them to this page. Usually briefs are not filed until they get to the Supreme Court of Virginia, but we will also include petitions and responses in the litigation phase when possible. Cases will be described generally, as will the various filings.
Most of these files have been scanned into electronic format from hard copies. Every attempt has been made to preserve basic formatting, such as use of italics, underlining and other kinds of type used for emphasis. Original page numbers are not included. Also, due to the vagaries of scanning software, some errors will have crept in that we didn't catch. Citations to various court cases, page numbers and years are the most susceptible to these kinds of errors.
Please let us know of additional briefs we could include.
Hjelm v. Prince William County School Board - Prince William County citizen Mark Hjelm is seeking records related to the school district's use of an electronic visitor identification system.
McBurney v. Mims - U.S. federal district court challenging Virginia FOIA's provision limiting FOIA's use to Virginia citizens only (i.e., local and state governments in Virginia do not have to fulfill out-of-state FOIA requests).
Beck v. Shelton - Va. Supreme Court case addressing the use of e-mail by more than two members of a public body. Also dealt with application of FOIA to members-elect of a public body, and whether a meeting of a public body occurred at a community forum.
Cartwright v. Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner of Virginia - Case currently pending before the Va. Supreme Court. Addresses the standard a trial court must apply when determining if mandamus relief under FOIA is appropriate. Also addresses whether a citizen can be denied a FOIA request because he is also in litigation and might be able to get the same requested record through discovery. VDOT initiated eminent domain proceedings against Raymond Cartwright. Cartwright asked for documents related to the case through FOIA. Circuit Court ruled that Cartwright couldn't get them because he was currently in litigation with VDOT and could seek the same documents through discovery.
- Order from Chesapeake Circuit Court in VDOT's favor. (PDF)
- Brief of Raymond Cartwright, a citizen suing VDOT, petitioning the Supreme Court of Virginia to review his case. (PDF)
- Brief of VDOT, opposing Cartwright's petition for review. (PDF)
- Supreme Court decision reversing the circuit court, holding that a plaintiff does not have to prove that he does not have an adequate remedy at law before being entitled to a writ of mandamus under FOIA.
Connell v. Kersey - Va. Supreme Court ruled that constitutional officers were not covered by FOIA. Subsequent legislation specifically included such officers.
- Opening brief of citizen/criminal defendant who asked for records from the Commonwealth Attorney's offrice and was denied.
- Amicus brief in support of citizen, filed by VCOG and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
- Decision by Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Marum Roush in favor of Commonwealth Attorney's office.
- Supreme Court decision affirming the circuit court.
Wilson v. City of Salem - Litigation out of the Salem Circuit Court in 2000 over the legality of a vote taken on a measure that was not included on the agenda.
- City's brief in response to plaintiff's memorandum, which was in response to the city's demurrer.