Courts

Ewing v. Harmon

In a petition under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act arising from a request for production by a police department of personnel records of a specific officer, such records are subject to the protections of Code § 2.2-3705.1(1) and their production was appropriately refused by the Department; the circuit court's order requiring disclosure of the personnel records is reversed. The request for criminal incident information including the identities of all individuals, other than juveniles, arrested or charged by this officer must be accommodated by the Department. However, under Code § 2.2-3706 the portion of the request concerning the identities of individuals arrested by other officers based on observations or information supplied by the specified officer seeks information that is exempt from disclosure. Concerning the award of attorneys' fees in this matter under Code § 2.2-3713(D), the determination of "special circumstances" lies in the sound discretion of the trial court, and this issue must be considered in light of the several holdings in favor of the responding police department on this appeal. The circuit court must reconsider whether to award attorneys' fees and, if so, the appropriate quantum. The judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the case is remanded.

Bigelow v. Commonwealth

Bigelow was tried, convicted, and fined for publishing an advertisement in the Virginia Weekly, a Charlottesville newspaper, that advertised abortion services in New York. The Court ruled that the statute, which forbid "encouraging or prompting" abortions in any way, was constitutional. The ruling distinguished the lawful regulation of advertisements from the unlawful abridgement of free expression. The Court said that Bigelow could not assert the hypothetical rights of those whose speech is usually protected -- such as doctors or lecturers -- in making his own claim about commercial advertising.

House v. Commonwealth

The Court reversed and dismissed an indictment for a gentleman who sold the "girlie" magazines KNIGHT and RAW. They were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt to be obscene and beyond the area of constitutionally protected expressions, the Court ruled. Determination of whether a particular work of expression is obscene is not merely a factual matter on which jury's verdict is conclusive, but also involves an issue of constitutional law which must ultimately be decided by the Court. The definition of obscenity depends in part on "contemporary community standards," and expert testimony is required to establish those standards. The personal opinions of jurors or witnesses do not in themselves necessarily express or reflect community standards.

Project Vote v. Long

4th Circuit rules that completed voter registration forms, with Social Security numbers redacted, must be disclosed under the National Voter Registration Act.

Hill v. Fairfax County School Board

The Supreme Court of Virginia rules that the rapid and extensive exchange of emails leading up to a meeting is not itself a meeting triggering FOIA's requirements.

Saltville v. Surber

Judge in Saltville reviewed under seal several documents related to a former town employee. He eventually ruled that some of them must be released to a newspaper, over the former employee's objection, and that others did not have to be released because they did not discuss public business. Read the full final order here.

Virginian-Pilot v. City of Norfolk School Board

Court rules that some administrative investigative records had to be released because the investigation was over, but also rules that the school district was not required to redact personnel records and scholastic records in response to newspaper's FOIA request.

Dixon v. VCU

A Fairfax County Circuit Court ruled Sept. 9 that the names home and business addresses of the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors must be released when requested under FOIA.

Cline v. Augusta County and Board of Equalization of Augusta County

Augusta County Circuit Court judge rules that county Board of Equalization violated FOIA by meeting in a small, inaccessible room with a sign on the door directing the public to wait outside until their case was called.

Full text of the opinion (PDF)

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