Attorney General's Opinion 1972-73 #487

October 13, 1972

Member, Senate of Virginia

72-73 487

This will acknowledge receipt of your inquiry of October 6, 1972, in which you pose the following questions about the Virginia Freedom of Information Act:

(1) "Is the 'Virginia Freedom of Information Act,' which is found in Chapter 21 of Title 2.1 of the Code, applicable to the Virginia Judicial Conference of Courts of Record?

(2) "If so, is a voluntary conference of that body, scheduled for Oct. 18-20 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to discuss the report of the Virginia Court Systems Study Commission and pending state legislation that would implement commission recommendations, required to be open to the press and public?

(3) "Are both general sessions and workshop sessions, where attendance is divided into four groups to discuss specific aspects of one or more pending court reform measures, also to be open to the press and public? And how about consideration and action on resolutions?"

The Freedom of Information Act clearly requires that: "Except as otherwise specifically provided by law and except as provided in §§2.1-344 and 2.1-345, all meetings shall be public meetings. Section 2.1-343 of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended." (Emphasis supplied.) I have examined Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the Code, which establishes the Judicial Conference of Virginia, and find it silent as to meetings other than the requirement that the conference meet at least once in each calendar year. Similarly, I would have examined §2.1-345 of the Code, which sets forth certain legislative commissions and agencies of government, to which the Freedom of Information Act is inapplicable; the Judicial Conference of Virginia is not listed therein. Consequently, I am of the opinion that the Freedom of Information Act is applicable to the Judicial Conference of Virginia, and that all of your questions must be answered in the affirmative. Section 2.1-344 does set forth seven purposes for which executive or closed meetings may be held. Based on the information contained in your letter, however I am of the opinion that a discussion of the Virginia Court System Study Commission's report, and pending legislation related thereto, would not fall within the scope of the purposes stated in the above-mentioned section.