Courts

Rivera v. Long (Norfolk Circuit Court) (on costs and attorneys' fees)

Judge rules on cost prevailing plaintiff should pay for copies of general registrar's records, as well as on attorneys' fees for the plaintiff's attorney.

White Dog Publishing v. Culpeper Board of Supervisors

In considering certain newspaper publishers' application for a writ of mandamus, the circuit court erred in finding that a county board of supervisors did not violate the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by going into a closed session at a particular meeting and erred in failing to award reasonable costs and attorney's fees under the Act. Because the purpose of the closed session was not the formation or modifications of a procurement contract, it did not fall within the statutory public contract exemption of § 2.2-3711(A)(30), and special circumstances did not make an award of fees and costs unjust.

Lee v. Minner (3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)

States cannot limit use of their public records laws to citzens/residents of that state (this case is from a federal appeals court that covers Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and The Virgin Islands).

Rivera v. Long (Norfolk Circuit Court)

General Registrar must disclose rejection letters written to applicants to vote. Actual applications may be withheld under state election law.

Bland v. Virginia State University (Supreme Court, 6/8/06)

In FOIA cases, complete set of records must be included on appeal to afford Supreme Court full review on the merits. Trial court erred in refusing plaintiff's motion to include full set of records.

911 tapes are public record, judge rules

-- The public has a right to hear the 911 call made by a mother accused of killing her son, a judge ruled April 13.

Media General Operations Inc. v. Buchanan (4th Cir. on access to courts)

Several media companies joined forces to request a judicial order that would unseal affidavits supporting search warrants related to U.S. antiterrorist efforts. They also wanted the district court to maintain a public docket of search warrant proceedings. The 4th Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling that denied those requests. Although the press has a qualified common-law right to see judicial documents, that right is not as strong as a First Amendment right, and can be overridden at a judge’s discretion. The magistrate judge had ruled within her discretion that unsealing the affidavits would hamper an ongoing investigation, and that the government’s reasons for secrecy were compelling. Furthermore, the press and public have no right to advance notice of a request to seal such records. Instead, journalists and other citizens may object after the fact, when they see the public record of a sealing order.

Cartwright v. Commonwealth Transportation Commission

It is not necessary for a plaintiff asking for a writ of mandamus under FOIA to prove that he has no other adequate remedy at law. Agency's provision of sought-after records after litigation has been initiated over access to those records does not moot case.

William H. Turner v. Virginia Board of Dentistry, Department of Health Professions, et al.

Board of Dentistry meeting minutes were inadequate, did not include even a summary of the discussion on a particular subject and decision. Attorney fees awarded for FOIA violation. No wilful violation found.

Albright v. Woodfin

NOTE: Scroll to end for another ruling in a district court proceeding, June 10, 2005, between Albright and the Attorney General over advance-estimating of costs for filling a FOIA request.


Lee H. Albright v. William Woodfin et al., CL05-0006, Nelson County Circuit Court

May 26, 2005

Judge J. Michael Gamble

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