The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive

(optional)

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-12

A telephone billing record paid by a public official in his personal capacity that was not prepared for or used in the transaction of public business is not a public record subject to FOIA. Such a telephone billing record is not paid with public funds, only indicates that a call was made (it does not reveal the contents of the call or who made it), and is prepared by the service provider in order to receive payment as part of a commercial transaction.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-11

Summarizes the requirements for making and responding to a FOIA request. Clear communications between the parties are essential. Public bodies are reminded to provide one of the five responses required by statute.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-12

A public official may only charge his or her rate of pay as a public official, not as a private employee, when responding to requests for public records.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-11

Adult arrestee booking photographs (mug shots) are public records subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-11

A rescue squad which is a town department is subject to FOIA for records purposes, but is not subject to the open meetings requirements of FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-11

The attorney-client privilege exemption must be narrowly construed. If a record contains both exempt and non-exempt material, only the exempt material may be withheld. Whether a record is exempt depends on the contents of the record and the existence of a specific legal provision that allows the record to be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-11

Section 40.1-11 of the Code of Virginia exempts certain records of the Department of Labor and Industry from mandatory disclosure under FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-11

Pursuant to the exemption for records of persons imprisoned in penal institutions in the Commonwealth related to the imprisonment, the Department of Corrections may withhold a list of female inmates showing the inmates' names, state identification numbers, and facility locations.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-11

A settlement agreement that settles ongoing litigation and is sealed by court order is exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-10

For the purpose of the definition of public records, the meaning of in the transaction of public business must be examined on a case by case basis. FOIA does not mandate how to perform a search for records, but any search that is conducted must be carried out in good faith.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-10

FOIA provides exemptions from mandatory disclosure for certain records related to closed meetings. However, FOIA does not address whether a mayor may demand that at the conclusion of a closed meeting members of a local governing body give to the mayor any documents distributed or notes taken during the closed meeting.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-10

A motion to convene a closed meeting must identify the subject of the meeting, the purpose of the meeting, and cite an applicable exemption from the open meeting requirements. In order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, the preferred practice is to make a separate motion for each topic that will come under consideration during a closed meeting.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-10

Records that have been entered into evidence and made part of the public record at a public hearing may not subsequently be withheld from disclosure as exempt records of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-09

A motion to convene a closed meeting must identify the subject of the meeting, state its purpose, and provide a reference to an applicable exemption. Quoting or paraphrasing a statutory exemption states the purpose of the meeting, but does not identify the subject. FOIA places the duty to identify the subject of a closed meeting upon the public body holding the meeting, not its attorney.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-09

An advisory group created by a public body to advise the public body would itself be a public body subject to FOIA. However, such a group created by a public employee to advise the employee would not be a public body. Likewise, such an advisory group would not be a public body if it was self-appointed.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-09

Certain portions of FOIA's criminal records exemptions are currently limited to use only by local law enforcement agencies, not the State Police.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-09

A nonprofit foundation that raises funds from private sources to pay for its own operations and to provide financial support to a government entity is not a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-09

Public records posted on a public body's Web site remain subject to FOIA. It is generally expected that public bodies will not charge for sending brief electronic mail messages providing Web addresses or copied excerpts of electronic records, as the actual costs incurred usually are negligible.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-09

Though generally local public bodies may not meet or cast votes by electronic means, a telephone conversation between an administrator and a single member of a public body is not a meeting subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-09

Without a prior agreement, when a requester asks for records to be sent via e-mail, the government cannot bill the requester for the cost and mileage involved with delivering the records via certified mail.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-09

Boards of equalization are public bodies and are required to keep minutes of their meetings. Even before law takes effect July 1, 2009, minutes should be in writing. Audio recordings cannot be a substitute. Votes must be recorded, though those who vote need not be identified.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-09

Section 15.2-2907 says that certain meetings that are or would be subject to review by the Commission on Local Government -- like consolidation and annexation discussions -- are not subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-09

A task force jointly created by multiple public bodies to advise them is itself a public body subject to FOIA. Likewise, a regional public body provided for by statute and established by the resolutions of several local public bodies is also subject to FOIA. Both must comply with the procedural rules for conducting public meetings.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-09

Scholastic records, by definition, are those records which contain information directly related to a student and maintained by a public body that is an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution. A denial of a records request must cite the specific Code section that authorizes the withholding of the records.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-09

The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia is an agency of the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds; opinion also address response time, and failure to respond properly.

Pages