FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-04


March 31 , 2004

Ms. Diana May
Richmond, Virginia

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your letter of January 21, 2004.

Dear Ms. May:

You have asked a question concerning a request for records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You indicate that you are involved in unresolved legal matters with a state university. You state that legal counsel for the university told you that you may only contact the university if you act through an attorney. You want to make a FOIA request for certain minutes and records of the Board of Visitors of the university, and ask if the university can prohibit you from making a FOIA request unless you act through an attorney.

Subsection A of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia states that [e]xcept as otherwise specifically provided by law, all public records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth. Therefore, as a citizen of the Commonwealth, you have the right to request to inspect or copy records held by the Board of Visitors. Absent a specific court order to the contrary, a public body or its legal counsel may not prohibit a citizen of the Commonwealth from making a request for records, and cannot require that such citizen make a FOIA request only through her attorney.

Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.


Maria J.K. Everett
Executive Director