FOI Blog

Va. FOIA & access in the news

The Warren County Department of Social Services has not violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act as claimed in a pending lawsuit in General District Court, according to the county attorney. "An adage says there are two sides to every story," Warren County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell says in a response to an argument made on behalf of Linda B. Selover of Front Royal. "While the Defendant, unfortunately, has not prepared destruction documents for the discarded items, that failure is not a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, as the Petitioner suggests," Mitchell asserts.

Va. FOIA & access in the news

Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to try and find the truth about reports that have circulated about the Planning Commission since last week. York confirmed this weekend he has submitted a FOIA request to Commissioner Sandra Chaloux (Dulles) in an attempt to uncover any e-mails she may have sent regarding the Planning Commission's work session on the Countywide Transportation Plan.

Supreme Court's juror anonymity proposal

Virginia passed a law in 2008 that allows courts to close access to juror lists upon a showing of good cause ( The bill was originally introduced in 2007, sponsored by Del. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), but was sent to the Crime Commission for study. Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) carried the bill in 2008 and made clear during committee sessions that his aim was to protect jurors in situations where there may be retaliation, especially in gang trials.

FOIA in the news

It's popular to bash mainstream media, says Lucy Dalglish of the Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (and VCOG board member), but they've spent a lot of money fighting for the public's right to know what its public and private institutions are up to, "They spent the money on your behalf. You may have noticed your local media have hit hard times. ...I'm afraid. Very afraid that the folks we've always counted on to push for open government won't be able to continue this battle."

FOIA process needn't be adversarial

  Once again, the FOI Advisory Council has had to remind FOIA requesters and government officials alike to play nice.
In its June 9, 2009, opinion (AO-06-09), the council congratulated a citizen and a rep from the AG's office for their "polite and concise" communications with each other. But the council also observed:

Public departures/private reasons

A story and an editorial from the Lynchburg News & Advance about high-profile resignations that leave more questions than answers.
In Amherst County, the county administrator abruptly resigned in a closed-door session. No one's talking, so the public has no idea what happened.
In Appomattox, it was the school board superintendent.

Secret lawsuit settlement amounts

An edited version of this article appeared Sunday, May 31, in the Roanoke Times

Let's settle this thing

by Megan Rhyne

Two juveniles held in a Newport News detention center claim they were raped by two other residents. The two boys sued the city, saying the city was at fault because the facility was too crowded and did not separate juveniles based on size or other factors.

Liberty U. v. college Dems.

  Below is a round-up of stories and editorials related to the decision by Liberty University to revoke university recognition of a student Democratic Party club.

Public bodies, lawyers & confidential settlements

The City of Newport News has recently settled a lawsuit brought by two youths at a juvenile facility who were raped by two of their fellow inmates. The amount of the settlement is not being released because the settlement and its terms have been sealed.

Of course, settlements don't seal themselves, and judges don't seal settlements without the parties first suggesting it.

Asked, then, why they agreed to a clause that keeps secret the amount the taxpayers will pay to settle this lawsuit, here's what the Newport News City Council members had to say:

Va. laws take hit in court

It's been a tough few weeks for the Commonwealth.

Despite being fought over by the candidates for president and vice president like she was the Corn Festival Queen, Virginia's had to endure the rains of Hanna, the price gouging of Ike and the scorn of the New York Times over its student voter-registration policies.