FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-15-01


February 23, 2001

Ms. Lorraine R. Phinney
Powhatan, VA

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 e-mail of February 1, 2001.

Dear Ms. Phinney:

You have asked whether you may obtain information relating to the qualifications of a public official under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, you would like to access information about an attorney for the Commonwealth concerning his background and qualifications as a prosecutor.

Subsection A of § 2.1-342 of the Code of Virginia states that unless specifically provided by law, all public records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth. Section 2.1-342.01 sets forth a series of exemptions from FOIA for specific types of records. Subdivision A. 4. of § 2.1-342.01 exempts [p]ersonnel records containing information concerning identifiable individuals. The Attorney General of Virginia has interpreted this exemption to include professional qualifications. The information that you wish to access relates to the attorney for the Commonwealth's professional qualifications, and thus may be properly withheld pursuant to the personnel records exemption.

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


Maria J.K. Everett
Executive Director