The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive

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FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-13

A motion to convene a closed meeting must identify the subject to be discussed, the purpose of the discussion, and cite an appropriate exemption. There are two requirements set forth in the exemption allowing public bodies to hold closed meetings to discuss real property matters: (1) that the discussion concern the acquisition of real property for a public purpose, or the disposition of publicly held real property, and (2) that discussion in an open meeting would adversely affect the bargaining position or negotiating strategy of the public body.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-13

FOIA is silent regarding the logistics of holding a public meeting. In a situation where the meeting room lacks the capacity to accommodate all those who wish to attend, the best practice is to move to a larger venue and use technology to increase public access, when possible.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-12

Subsection F of § 2.2-3707 requires that agenda packets be made available for public inspection at the same time they are furnished to members of the public body

FOI Advisory Opinion AO-01-13

Generally, records submitted by a private company to a state agency as required by regulation are public records subject to FOIA. Marking such records proprietary and confidential does not, by itself, make them exempt from mandatory disclosure; records are only exempt if there is a specific provision of law that allows them to be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-12

A public instrumentality exercising public and essential governmental functions (in this case, Crooked Road) is a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-12

Considering three different records exemptions, an adult arrestee photograph (mug shot) may not be withheld as a noncriminal incident record; may be withheld if its release would jeopardize a felony investigation; and may be withheld if the subject depicted is also a witness.

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.

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