Fees

Stanfield v. Norfolk (Circuit Court)

A Norfolk circuit judge ruled that elected officials are not public bodies who have to respond to FOIA requests, the public body's response obligations are triggered when one of those officials receives a request. The judge also makes rulings on providing a "legal address" in a request and on unauthorized prepayment requirements for requests estimated at under $200.

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.)

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-05-19

Charges for public records are limited to reasonable charges not to exceed the public body's actual costs, but the question of whether a particular charge is reasonable may be decided only by a court.

Batterson v. Voorhees

Batterson v. Voorhees, Powhatan County Judge Paul W. Cella

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-15

A public body does not have to create a new record that does not already exist, but may abstract or summarize information under such terms and conditions as agreed between the requester and the public body. Clear and concise communications are critical when making and responding to requests.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-14

Requesters and public bodies may reach their own agreements on the terms of production of public records. Such agreements should address any variations in response timing and charges to which the parties agree.

ATI v. UVA

Supreme Court of Virginia rules unanimously that UVA can withhold records requested by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) under the exemption for academic research and "proprietary records." Court adopts interpretation of "proprietary" that encompasses records that are within the "ownership, title and possession" of the university. Though the ruling is limited to the research exemption (2.2-3705.4(4)), Justice Mims, in concurrence, notes the potential for expansion into FOIA's many other references to "proprietary" records.

The opinion also gives the green light to charging for the review of records to determine their responsivness to a request.

The case was clouded from the beginning by the topic and target of ATI's request: the emails of climate scientis Michael Mann. The issues became one's opinion on climate change and/or one's feelings on academic freedom instead of on whether FOIA's exemption did or did not apply.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-13

Charges for public records are limited to actual costs. The actual cost to provide electronic records is not the same as the cost to provide paper copies. Estimates must be provided in advance if requested.

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.

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