Attorney-Client Privilege

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.

Bergano v. City of Virginia Beach

The Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled the City of Virginia Beach erred by redacting all entries on its bill from an outside law firm that was representing the city in an eminent domain case against a city dentist.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-18

It is possible that electronic mail message headers could include legal advice and information protected by the attorney-client privilege exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to subsection 2 of § 2.2-3705.2. That exemption includes advice from legal counsel to officers of a public body as well as employees of the public body, and does not place a limit on how many officers or employees of the public body may receive the advice at one time. It is also possible that electronic mail message headers could include information describing the design, function, operation, or access control features of a security system that would be exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to subsection 2 of § 2.2-3405.1. 

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-10-04

An outside attorney's bill to a locality must be disclosed under FOIA, though portions that reveal the substantive details of the attorney's representation may be redacted. FOIA does not require a verbal response to a request for information.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-04

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, an interstate compact between Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, is subject to FOIA because the compact's terms says that Virginia law applies in cases raised under the compact. Public body may recoup costs of providing records. Records detailing legal advice given to public body may be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-03

Documents relating to a public relations firm hired by Newport News to assist it and its lawyers during litigation over the King William Reservoir are not protected by the attorney-client privilege or the work-product privilege. The PR agency is not an agent of the firm in the first instance, and its purpose is not part of the litigation itself in the second instance.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-22-01

Attorney-client privilege exemption gives record custodian discretion to release as much or as little of exempt record to anyone; distribution to one person does not destroy the exemption.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-01

In consultation with legal counsel, the public body is the holder of the attorney-client privilege and so may disclose information it wishes; merely discussing an exempt document does not kill an applicable exemption.

Shenandoah Publishing House v. City of Winchester

Document given to city attorney by city manager is protected from mandatory disclosure as attorney-client privilege because it was prepared as part of an active administrative investigation in which legal advice was needed.
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