The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive

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Attorney General opinion 20-043

Local governments do not have authority under §15.2-1413, which allows the adoption of modifications to essential functions during an  emergency, to relax the deadlines by which to respond to FOIA requests.

Attorney General Opinion 20-036

The Suffolk City School Board policy, which limits board members' abilitty to seek records under FOIA, "should not impede access to public records by citizens of the Commonwelath."

Attorney General Opinion 20-24

On May 6, 2020, the Attorney General said that the amendments to the budget adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the governor in April 2020 would allow the General Assembly to meet remotely during a time of declared emergency, provided the bodies can meet the conditions offered in the amendments, including that the emergency makes meeting in person "impracticable or unsafe," and (among other things) providing minutes and making sure the public has electronic acess to the proceedings

Attorney General Opinion, 3/20/20

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Attorney General issued this opinion on the meetings of local and state government boards and whether/when they can meet electronically, without a quorum physically present at one site.

Attorney General opinion 19-023

The Tourism Council of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance is a public body subject to FOIA.

Attorney General Opinion A6-046 2016

Section 24.2-107 of the Code of Virginia requires local electoral boards to post on an official website whatever kinds of minutes they keep, including both draft and final minutes.

AG letter 05-27-2016

Informal opinion from the AG's office (authored by Opinions Counsel Tim Oksman) says that locally filed conflicts of interest forms cannot be redacted in response to a FOIA request.

Attorney General Opinion 15-020_Morris

A blanket prohibition against public comment at public meetings on "specific personnel or student concerns" and speech identifying school officials or employees violates free speech principles, as does a prohibition against all "personal attacks."

Attorney General Opinion 2015-027

The Attorney General concluded on Sept. 4, 2015, that the Suffolk Wetlands Board does not have to permit public comment during meetings where public comment is not statutorily required. However, "because of the overarching importance of open government and free discussion with citizens," the AG says that "the Board may from time to time choose to permit public comment when public comment is not required."

Attorney General Opinion 14-063

"For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that local law enforcement agencies must disclose adult arrestee photographs pursuant to a valid FOIA request if they are contained in a database maintained by the local law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the defendant is still incarcerated or has been released, unless disclosing them will jeopardize a felony investigation. However, photographs may not be drawn from the Central Criminal Records Exchange for disclosure at any time to comply with a FOIA request.""For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that local law enforcement agencies must disclose adult arrestee photographs pursuant to a valid FOIA request if they are contained in a database maintained by the local law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the defendant is still incarcerated or has been released, unless disclosing them will jeopardize a felony investigation. However, photographs may not be drawn from the Central Criminal Records Exchange for disclosure at any time to comply with a FOIA request."

Attorney General Opinion Sept 27 2013

A public official's constituent newsletter may or may not be a public record; it depends on the content and use of the newsletter. However, if you assume the newsletter is a public record, the email distribution list used to send the newsletter is would not be exempt from disclosure.

Attorney General Opinion 13-036

New law (effective date July 1, 2013) restricting access to concealed weapons permits is retroactive, and declares that court orders granting permits must be blocked from access, too.

Attorney General Opinion 12-9-11

AG reviews 4th Circuit opinions that place limits on when and how sectarian prayers can be invoked at public meetings.

Attorney General's Opinion 2011 #096

Two members of a 3-member board cannot talk by phone to ascertain positions on issues or to arrange meeting schedules. Such conversations violate the open meetings provisions of FOIA.

Attorney General's Opinion 2007 #068

Virginia Retirement System can withhold information private equity firms provide the system on its structure, portfolio or strategy.

Attorney General's Opinion 2007 #027

List of concealed-carry gun permittees should be kept confidential by the state police because it might contain names of crime victims or witnesses.

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.

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.

Attorney General's Opinion 2002 #116

a circuit court clerk may not decline to record a deed of trust that contains the grantors social security number. It is also my opinion that the clerks modification of a deed of trust offered for recordation may expose him to liability.

Attorney General's Opinion 2002 #095

two United States Supreme Court decisions you reference are not applicable to whether a circuit court clerk has a duty to provide public access to digital copies of the courts database of judicial or court records. It is my opinion that there is a presumption of openness of court records that has its origins in the common law, and the Virginia statutory law creates a presumption of openness with regard to requests for court records in digital format. Specifically, The Virginia Freedom of Information Act and §17.1-208 impose a duty on circuit court clerks to furnish copies of records requested by a citizen, without distinctions between paper and digital formats, provided the records are not sealed by court order or otherwise exempt from disclosure by law.

Attorney General's Opinion 2002 #002

Library record showing which materials a minor has checked out and which materials are overdue are exempted from mandatory disclosure, even to the parent of the minor, library records exemption, #10.

Attorney General's Opinion 2001 #091

A commissioner of revenue may provide remote Internet access to the names of businesses licensed to do business in a locality.

Attorney General's Opinion 2001 #101

Institutional review boards and human research review committees at institutions of higher learning are not public bodies. They are supported wholly or principally by public funds, but they do not perform a delegated function of their parent entities.

Attorney General's Opinion 2000 #058

Original marriage licenses and certificates maintained by a circuit court clerk are considered vital records open to public inspection; access to microfilmed copies are open to the public, too.

Attorney General's Opinion 2000 #031

A circuit court clerk may provide access to case management data through the Internet.

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