The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive

(optional)

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-04

Public body must follow FOIA's notice provision, even if planning to go into a closed meeting immediately; closed meeting can only take place within the context of an open meeting. Draft proposal between a city and a county over acquisition of water may be withheld under the exemption for contract negotations, if disclosure would jeopardize bargaining position; discussions of the proposal may also be held in closed session. Advisory Council uses subcommittee to identify a problem in FOIA and propose legislation to address it.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-04

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, an interstate compact between Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, is subject to FOIA because the compact's terms says that Virginia law applies in cases raised under the compact. Public body may recoup costs of providing records. Records detailing legal advice given to public body may be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-27-03

In interpreting subsections (F)(1) and (G) of 2.2-3706, the General Assembly intended for records relating to criminal investigations and prosecutions to be exempt from public disclosure, whether such records are held by state or local law-enforcement officials.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-26-03

Like lists of books and quetsions asked of reference librarian, a record that showed the Web sites cisited on the Internet by a library may be exempt from disclosure.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-03

Documents relating to a public relations firm hired by Newport News to assist it and its lawyers during litigation over the King William Reservoir are not protected by the attorney-client privilege or the work-product privilege. The PR agency is not an agent of the firm in the first instance, and its purpose is not part of the litigation itself in the second instance.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-24-03

Not all Department of Corrections records containing information about procedures and protocols are automatically exempt under the security exemption, (A)(69). Without viewing the records, the council notes that the procedures and protocols related to the execution of prisoners by lethal injection and electrocution may be wholly exempt.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-21-03

If database is maintained in digital form, the records custodian cannot limit dissemination of the database to paper format only. Circuit courts cannot charge 50 cents per page for records subject to FOIA when those records are provided electronically; clerk could charge for search time and cost of computer disks.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-22-03

FOIA does not prohibit public bodies from regulating public comment period during open meetings. A public comment period rule prohibiting speakers from asking questions of the public body and its staff does not violate FOIA's allowance for records requests to be made verbally. FOIAC cannot render opinions regarding possible federal constitutional violations.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-03

When providing records that have already been assembled for easy public access, the government is not required to charge requesters anything for those records, much less the amount it cost to first compile the records for an earlier requester. Government does not have an obligation to lend out a CD of public records for requesters to make copies on their own, but it is not prohibited, and it facilitates FOIA's policy of access.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-19-03

Records held by Barnes & Noble relating to the management of pulbic university bookstores are subject to FOIA if the store is acting as the university's agent, but not if the store is acting as an independent contractor. University may not frustrate public policy of access to records on the transaction of public business by outsourcing them to independent contractors.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-18-03

A university student organization supported wholly or principally by public funds is subject to FOIA as an independent body; the parent university is not the custodian of the organization's records. It is recommended that a FOIA request made of a public body that is not the custodian of the records sought should be forwarded on to the proper custodian.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-16-03

School superintendent cannot redact portions of school safety audits when submitting to department of criminal justice services because another code provision, which is more specific, demands full disclosure of the report; thought the deparment of criminal justice services is the custodian of school safety audits submitted by school division superintendents, it is bound to release information on school vulnerability assessment components or security plans unless the school division has specifically designated those sections confidential under FOIA exemption.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-14-03

The Onancock Business Civic Association is not a public body when it is participating in the Main Street Program, despite needing the assent of the local governing body to participate, because the association is not supported in whole or in part by public funds; local government's consent does not create a principal-agent relationship requiring the association's records to be disclosed under FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-03

City of Newport News' failure to provide one of the four enumerated responses to a FOIA request is a violation of the act; an action for mandamus or injunction may be pursued.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-03

An exception to the general rule that a public body does not have to create a record that does not exist is when the requested information is for employee salaries. General recommendation that public body and requester work together to clarify requests. General advice to compare information contained in records oneself instead of relying on public body to do it.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-03

A suicide report held by a police department is generally available as a noncriminal incident report, though personal, medical or financial information may be redacted.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-03

The Virginia State Bar's list of attorneys licensed to practice in the Commonwealth should be disclosed under FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-03

A public body cannot charge a requester for the cost of compiling a requested record that had already been compiled for an earlier requester.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-03

The general results of an employee survey about working conditions should be released under FOIA, although those portions of the surveys that deal with identifiable individuals may be withheld as a personnel record.

Attorney General's Opinion 2002 #149

confidential information provided to the Virginia Retirement System by limited partnerships in the private equity market may be exempt from disclosure under The Virginia Freedom of Information Act, provided such information meets the requirements of ßÝ2.2-3705(A)(47) of the Act. Even though the Retirement System may deny public access to such confidential information, the Retirement System is required to provide to a valid requester under the Act the identity of any private equity limited partnership in which it invests and the amount and present value of such investments.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-03

Government body could not withhold personnel records pertaining to an employee subject to a disciplinary action from that employee, even if there was an active investigation in progress. Portions of the record not pertaining to that person could be redacted.

Attorney General's Opinion 2002 #113

A commissioner of revenue may release names and addresses of businesses licensed in the locality. Information cannot be withheld just because it is going to be used for solicitation purposes.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-14-02

Though a public body may require a requester to pay a deposit for a request likely to cost over $200 to fulfill, the public body is also required to refund the requester the difference of any overestimate. Whether it is reasonable for a public body to maintain records in a manner that makes it hard to identify them or contracts for their maintenance with an expensive third party is a matter for the courts to decide.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-02

Prison records on procedures and policies may be withheld under exemption #69 only to the extent that release of the information would jeopardize the security and safety of the building or individuals. A prison could invoke the exemption to withhold records about how a body is transported out of the prison, but if it doesn't jeopardize safety and security, then probably not information about how an inmate's designee is notified of the prisoner's illness, injury or death.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-02

To claim the working papers exemption, a locality can have only one chief executive, such as the mayor or the city manager. The choice is based on the form of government and the charter, not a title. Whichever one it is, a locality cannot switch back and forth from one to the other.

Pages