The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-03

Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority is a public body subject to FOIA. A press conference attended by a quorum of a public body or committee members representing the body is a meeting under FOIA. Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may not deny media kits to citizens who request them. Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may not exclude members of the public from press conferences held to announce public business. Employees of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority may hold a private press conference without violating the letter of the law, but it would violate FOIA's spirit of openness.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-03

A hearing to determine whether a teacher's complaint fits the definition of grievance should be held in private session in accordance with the Education Code; FOIA does not override the requirement.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-03

when examining rules adopted by public bodies governing the placement and use of recording equipment, one must examine the rules on a case-by-case basis to determine the practical implications of their application. Construing liberally the right of the public to record meetings, rules may be imposed to prevent interference with the meeting, but not in such a way as would essentially prohibit a recording from being made.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-03

A public body is not authorized to purchase land between an informal vote taken in properly closed meeting but before a vote on purchase taken in open session. An informal vote taken in a closed meeting is not binding. Members of a public body may individually poll each other for their position on a matter of public business outside the context of either an open meeting or a properly closed one.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-15-02

City council may meet in closed session to discuss slate of candidates to fill a vacancy on that council. Discussion may include consensus or a straw poll to narrow the list of candidates, though no selection would be final or binding unless voted on at a meeting open to the public.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-16-02

A local body may not meet by any kind of electronic means; all participating members must be physically assembled in one place. The public, however, may participate in a meeting via electronic means.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-02

City manager may poll council members for advvice on how to spend money in the manager's discretionary fund. Motions to go into closed session must state the general exemption, the purpose and the subject matter of the meeting. No public discussion or vote is needed where a further action is not predicated on council action.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-02

Public body members may waive notice for themselves, but not for the public. Meetings are to be open to both the public and the press, not one or the other. A meeting of three or more members of a public body to discuss public business is to be open to the public, and the notice requirements of FOIA must be followed.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-02

Meetings of private organizations are not subject to FOIA. The attendance of elected officials at a private meeting does not convert the gathering to a public meeting as long as the officials did not arrange their attendance to discuss or transact public business.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-46-01

Though meetings with staff and government employees are not usually subject to FOIA, they are if they include a quorum of a public body's members. Informal gatherings - pre-meeting, post-meeting or some other time - are still meetings that must comply with FOIA if their purpose is to discuss public business.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-45-01

A motion to go into closed session that meets the procedural requirements of FOIA must still concern a topic that is actually a proper subject for a closed meeting. Discussion of financial incentives a locality is considering offering to lure a new business to the area is a proper subject for a closed meeting.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-43-01

Notice of future meetings must be posted at the clerk's office and a prominent public location. Though FOIA encourages the use of electronic communication via the Internet, the town's Web site does not qualify as a prominent public location under FOIA's meeting notice provisions.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-40-01

A gathering of four of five members of a governing body prior to a regularly scheduled meeting is prohibited if the members are discussing public business, but is not prohibited if public business is not being discussed.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-38-01

It is not a violation of FOIA for public body members to reach a consensus in closed session, but nothing is official until a vote in open session has been taken; a motion to close a meeting listing only the purpose and the statutory citation is inadequate because it does not also identify the purpose of the meeting; FOIA insures the public's right to witness public meetings, it does not guarantee the right to participate in meetings.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-31-01

Though a public body may discuss the sale of publicly held real property in closed meeting, FOIA and subsection B of ß15.2-1800 require a public meeting and vote before selling the property.

Wilson v. City of Salem

Wilson v. City of Salem/Munley v. City of Salem: Judge Weckstein's opinion

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-26-01

No exemption applies to allow for confidential discussion over construction plans for a previously approved restaurant

Mannix v. Board of Supervisors

[The case was first heard in General District Court; order below.]

May 3, 2001

Mr. Patrick J. Mannix, Sr.
Bristol, VA 24201

Mr. J.D. Bowie
Attorney at Law
Bristol, VA 24203

Re: Patrick J. Mannix, Sr. v. Washington County Board of Supervisors
Circuit Court of Washington County
File No. 01-93


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-24-01

Citizens advisory committee established to make recommendations to the State Transportation Board is subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-01

Two-person subcommittee is a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-18-01

At least three working days' notice is necessary to announce the change in location of a previously scheduled meeting; updates required everywhere notice is posted, including the Internet.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-14-01

When making a motion to go into closed session, the level of specificity required to identify the subject matter when addressing litigation greatly depends upon how its disclosure would affect the negotiating or litigating posture of the public body, and thus a general description may suffice.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-01

A school board member's attendance as a member of the general public at a meeting of a committee that two fellow school board members are on does not constitute a meeting of the school board.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-01

Regarding requirements for notice and agendas for special or emergency meetings; enforcement

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-01

Use of an e-mail network listserv by city council members is an improper electronic meeting under FOIA.