Courts

In Re: Honorable Adrianne L. Bennett (SCOVA)

In Re: Honorable Adrianne L. Bennett
The Virginia Supreme Court rules, 4-2, that the exhibits a judge filed in the Supreme Court along with a petition for mandamus should remain under seal, though the rest of the papers filed in the case, and the order sealing all the files should be unsealed. (The dissent reveals that the reason the mandamus was filed was because the judge wanted the Supreme Court to reinstate her to the bench after the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission suspended her.)

Kessler v. Charlottesville (Cir. Ct.)

The Public Records Act "clearly has an administrative purpose -- and seems, in fact, totally administrative and procedural -- for the benefit of the good operation of the state government and its agencies and (unlike FOIA) not for the benefit of individual citizens themselves." The court confirms that text messages are public records, however: "If the documents (texts) were still in the possession of the CIty, even in deleted form, I believe that the City would still have the obligation and duty to retrieve (recover) them. To me it is no different than if paper records were torn up and thown in a trashcan but had not been taken out to the garbage yet."

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.

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