Courts

CNS v. Schaefer (4th Circuit)

In ruling in favor of Courthouse News Service, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 24, 2021, that the clerks of the Norfolk and Prince William County circuit courts violated the press' First Amendment rights by delaying access to newly filed civil complaints.

Schilling v. JAUNT (general district court)

Albermarle General District Court Judge Matthew J. Quatrara ruled that the Jefferson Area United Transportation (JAUNT) service meets the definition of a public body and is thus subject to FOIA. Including money it gets from federal sourcces, JAUNT is "wholly or principally" supported by taxpayer funds. The judge said their was no statutory authority or court precedent to assume that federal funds should be excluded from the definition of "wholly or pincipally."

Hawkins v. Town of South Hill (circuit court)

Mecklenburg County Circuit Court Judge J. William Watson Jr. reviewed seven sets of documents South Hill said were exempt from release as personnel records and concluded that some were and some weren't. In the process, the judge reviewed past cases and FOIA's legislative history to determine that "personnel information" should be defined as "all information necessarily compiled and held by an employer, concerning an identifiable employee, which information directly relates to the commencement, continuation or termination of the employment relationship.”

Webster v. Filler-Corn

District court judge imposes civil penalties on Speaker of the House for her inaccurate response to a FOIA request that a requested record did not exist.

Gent v. Adams

Wise County general district court judge rules Town of Pound gave adequate notice of its meeting. Notice in the newspaper isn't required, and notice on the website wasn't required because a .com website isn't an "official government website." Judge says a .gov domain is required.

Sawyers v. Prince William County School Board

Direct messages sent by school superintendent through Twitter's direct message platform are "correspondence" that can be withheld under the "working papers and correspondence" exemption of FOIA, 2.2-3705.7(2).

Hart v. Town of Onley

General district judge rules town did not violate FOIA's provisions on motions to go into closed meeting or for proper topics for closed-meeting discussion, specifically discipline of the mayor by the town council.

Townes v. State Board of Elections

The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled June 18, 2020, (among other issues) that a circuit court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State Board of Elections to introduce multiple instances where two members of the Hopewell Electoral Board violated FOIA's meeting provisions. The petition SBE filed alleged violations on "at least three occasions," meaning that at trial they could offer evidence of those three plus others.

Cole v. Smyth County BOS

Supreme Court of VIrginia rules unanimously, May 28, 2020, that the Smyth County Board of Supervisors used an improper motion to go into closed session and talked about matters beyond the scope of the claimed exemption.

Harki v. Department of Corrections (2020)

A Norfolk Circuit Court Judge ruled April 15, 2020, that the Virginia Department of Corrections willfully and knowingly failed to provide a Virginian-Pilot reporter with documents he requested within the 5-day response time mandated by FOIA, nor did the VDOC ask for a 7-day extension. After repeated back and forth conversations between the reporter and the VDOC, the reporter's request was "reasonably specific," as required by FOIA, and the VDOC's attempt to argue otherwise is "disingenuous," the court wrote. Citing Hurst v. City of Norfolk, the court also ruled that even if VDOC had made a request for further specificity, that would not have tolled the 5-day response time limit.

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