Remedies, Enforcement and Procedures

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-23

Public Subsection D of § 15.2-2907 exempts the Commission on Local Government and certain meetings from FOIA, but does not otherwise address access to public records under FOIA. Also discussed the attorney-client privilege exemption, delivery methods and remedies available under FOIA.

Keefe v. Lovettsville

Loudoun County General District Court Judge Matthew Snow rules the town violated FOIA when it required a deposit of $115 (FOIA says a deposit can be requested for amounts over $200) and when the requester said she was going to ask the FOIA Council for its opinion, the town said it considered such an action a "threat" and would not process any more of the citizen's requests. (Plus, additional issues on redactions, post-litigation production of records, reasonableness of FOIA charges and attorney fees.)

Bragg v. BOS (Rappahannock County)

A Rappahannock County circuit judge ruled the board of supervisors there improperly closed a meeting to talk about an advertisement seeking a replacement for an outgoing county attorney as well as alternatives to the county attorney set-up. The topic was not "legal advice," nor did it fall under the personnel exemption for "prospective candidates for employment."

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-19

The exemption in subdivision 13 of § 2.2-3705.1 applies to certain account numbers and routing information, but does not address the names of credit card holders. The expedited hearing provisions in § 2.2-3713 apply regardless of whether a petition is filed in general district court or circuit court. Only a court may rule on evidentiary matters.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-18

Discusses general open meetings requirements of public bodies and their committees as well as obligations of public bodies in response to a request for public records. A public body is not required to record open meetings itself but must afford the public the opportunity to record the meetings. A committee of a public body is not required to record minutes of an open meeting if the committee membership is comprised of less than a majority of the public body membership. While a public body must post a link on its website to any routine exemption policy for records, there is no requirement as to how that policy is formed or that the policy be contained in a physical policy document. A public body must state in writing the reasons why public records are not provided in response to a request for public records.

Hurst v. City of Norfolk (circuit court)

In a case brought against the City of Norfolk alleging violations of FOIA's response times and fee estimates, a Norfolk Circuit Court gives much deference to FOIA Council prior opinions and finds:

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-16

A motion to convene a closed meeting that contains a general reference to the subject matter to be discussed does not satisfy the requirement to identify the subject. If a member feels that a closed meeting discussion strays beyond the matters identified in the motion to convene, that member shall make a statement to that effect to be included in the minutes before the public body votes to certify the closed meeting. In such a situation, it is expected that the member who feels that the discussion strayed will vote against the motion to certify when the vote is called. Further, if the motion to convene a closed meeting purports to discuss a subject (or subjects) but the actual discussion is of some other topic not addressed in the motion, that would be a violation of FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-08

FOIA provides that public bodies bear the burden of proof to establish an exemption by a preponderance of the evidence. However, FOIA is silent regarding whether a requester may challenge as an abuse of discretion a decision not to disclose records that are excluded from mandatory disclosure pursuant to a valid exemption, once the exemption has been established.

Rivera v. Long (Norfolk Circuit Court)

General Registrar must disclose rejection letters written to applicants to vote. Actual applications may be withheld under state election law.

Cartwright v. Commonwealth Transportation Commission

It is not necessary for a plaintiff asking for a writ of mandamus under FOIA to prove that he has no other adequate remedy at law. Agency's provision of sought-after records after litigation has been initiated over access to those records does not moot case.

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